Having just recently discovered Tanith Lee, I am avidly reading everything of hers that I can get my hands on. So far, "The Silver Metal Lover" ranks as one of my favorites. I have not yet read the Paradys tetralogy, which I have been told is superb, and a friend has promised me "Faces Under Water", so this book may be outclassed...but somehow, I think that would be hard.
One of the things I love most about "The Silver Metal Lover," besides the compelling characterization and the fully realized and believable setting, is Lee's writing style. It changes with each section of the book, mirroring Jane's growing maturity, so that the style of the first part is completely different from the style of the last. I find this an extremely talented turn of writing; as well as being fun to read, it's impressive.
I usually avoid love stories. If romance is a sub-plot to a larger story, fine, just don't give me a love story and nothing else. I have had to break my rule with "The Silver Metal Lover," and have done so with absolutely no regrets. The story feels real; you care about the characters and follow them as avidly as if they existed in our place, our time. Although I can't rate it as a love story, I can certainly say that it is one of the best science fiction books I have read: it focuses not on the future setting, not on the technology that can produce Silver and the Sophisticated Formats, but on the characters that populate the world. They are made very real, and for that reason I am now re-reading this book for what must be the third or fourth time in two weeks.
What else can I say? I highly recommend it!