Tanith Lee, 1981
Perhaps there are others like me, who missed reading "The Silver Metal Lover", a classic Science Fiction novel when it was first published a quarter century ago, and published again in 1999.
The heroine, sixteen-year-old Jane, comes of age in the book, so I suppose it would be classified as a teen or young adult novel in the Science Fiction genre. It is also a funny and moving romance, a commentary on what it means to be human, and a satire on political expediency.
In some future world, where the rich have escaped to mansions in the clouds, and the poor live like New York City poor in the depression years, two unlikely people find love and fulfillment in the slums. Although the plot is about love between a girl and a robot, the novel is not erotica. The crux of the novel is about a young woman asserting her identity. Tanith Lee uses a light but deft touch to show Jane's overbearing mother, and Jane's shallow friends. Lee creates a convincing world, one where Jane's choices make so much sense, that they seem normal and not bizarre at all.
I read the novel a month ago, but Lee's poetic descriptions are vivid to me now as I write this. Lee understands how to build empathy for her characters and tension in her scenes. She keeps her part of the writer-reader bargain: she delivers the magnificent climax, the fulfilling ending.
Tanith Lee is a prolific writer, and this book, although one of her earliest, is still a favorite among her fans. It reads like a dream, one that I didn't want to end. Don't miss it.
I wrote this review last year for the Forward Motion TBR boards. Check out the other reviewers there, for some satisfying reading. Lazette Giffords review of "Hunter of Worlds" (also in the SF category) led me to one of the most unforgettable SF books I've read in decades.