Return of The Silver Metal Lover
I know that her early novel The Silver Metal Lover found a large audience, and inferred that it was an SF novel (most of her fiction seems to be fantasy, perhaps sometimes with SF rationales) that also worked as a romance novel. Friends (all women) have told me that they had read it in high school or college, or that it was a guilty pleasure for them: a novel that got past their literary sophistication. I believe that Maureen McHugh has said that her Nekropolis was informed by the effect The Silver Metal Lover had on her.
Well, a few weeks ago Bantam sent me the galley of Metallic Love, a sequel to The Silver Metal Lover. (Forthcoming, it says, in March.) Evidently the original book, despite its popularity, eventually went out of print with DAW, and Bantam reissued it. I'm not going to read the new novel unless I read its predecessor (which I have no plans to do), but the galley is interesting. The back pages include an excerpt from The Silver Metal Lover, and the book's sell line is: Here is Jane's Story -- the Story that changed Loren's life. Now, let it change yours. It seems safe to say that such a line could only have been crafted with female readers in mind.
Here are the opening two sentences of Metallic Love, each its own paragraph:
"You're not going to like me.
"I apologize for that."
This seems to signal very strongly that the novel is aimed straight at an almost exclusively female readership, one whom it promises intimacy of a familiar kind, nothing surprising or disrupting. (The rest of the brief opening section, all told in quite short paragraphs, reinforces this.) Genre writing, in other words. A genre book that, in the manner of genre, is aimed at existing receptors, not at offering something new. And these receptors -- though I am very familiar with genre SF -- are all angled in a way that they just miss me.