• Fiona McIntosh: Voyager Author of the Month

    Fiona McIntosh was born and raised in Sussex in the UK, but also spent early childhood years in West Africa. She left a PR career in London to travel and settled in Australia in 1980. She has since roamed the world working for her own travel publishing company, which she runs with her husband. She lives in Adelaide with her husband and twin sons. Her website is at www.fionamcintosh.com.

    Her latest book, The Scrivener's Tale, is a stand-alone and takes us back to the world of Morgravia from her very first series, The Quickening:

    About The Scrivener's Tale:

    In the bookshops and cafes of present-day Paris, ex-psychologist Gabe Figaret is trying to put his shattered life back together. When another doctor, Reynard, asks him to help with a delusional female patient, Gabe is reluctant... until he meets her. At first Gabe thinks the woman, Angelina, is merely terrified of Reynard, but he quickly discovers she is not quite what she seems.

    As his relationship with Angelina deepens, Gabe's life in Paris becomes increasingly unstable. He senses a presence watching and following every move he makes, and yet he finds Angelina increasingly irresistible.

    When Angelina tells Gabe he must kill her and flee to a place she calls Morgravia, he is horrified. But then Angelina shows him that the cathedral he has dreamt about since childhood is real and exists in Morgravia.

    A special 10th Anniversary edition of her first fantasy book, Myrren's Gift, will be released in December!



The Silver Metal Lover by Kim Falconer

 The Silver Metal Lover

When discussing Sentience, our captain mentioned her favourite book, The Silver Metal Lover, by Tanith Lee. She encouraged me to read it and the experience opened my eyes. For those who aren’t familiar, here is a review by Victoria Strauss.

One of the things I love about TSML is how Tanith explores the hard problems of consciousness without intruding on the story. It was only during times ‘away from the book,’ that I pondered her insights—how the erotic nature of love can grow souls.

When I say erotic, I don’t me pornographic. I’m referring to Eros, the god of love—the original meaning is something that brings two people together in such a way that it creates a lasting transformation. In this sense, sex is rarely erotic, but it can be, as can the non-sexual relationship between an artist and their craft or a teacher and student. In TSML not only is the sex erotic but so is the art, music and intimacy shared between Jane and Silver.

To begin with, Jane is far from individuated. She says, ‘My mother has a lot of opinions, which is restful, as that way I don’t have to have many of my own.’ Jane is sentient but has little self awareness. Then she falls in love.

Mother, I am in love with a robot.
No. She isn’t going to like that.
Mother, I am in love.
Are you, darling?
Oh, yes, Mother, yes I am. His hair is auburn, and his eyes are very large. Like amber. And his skin is silver.
Mother. I’m in love.
With whom, dear?
His name is Silver.
How metallic.
Yes. It stands for Silver Ionized Locomotive Verisimulated Electronic Robot.
Silence. Silence. Silence.

Silver has a sense of self from the start. I’m a robot, he says, but is he sentient? He’s like a toaster making lovely golden toast but then he explains a ‘cruel look’, showing he is more than the sum of his circuitry. ‘When something occurs that is sufficiently unlike what I’m programmed to expect, my thought process switch over. I may then, for a moment, appear blank, or distant.’ How ‘human’ is that?

By the middle of TSML I realised Tanith wasn’t writing about romance, or coming of age, or social inequality or advanced technology or environmental disasters—even though these themes are present. She was writing about the nature of being. In her beautifully woven story is a Cartesian thesis on mid-body dualism. Are we the product of our physicality—a result of biochemical reactions in the brain? Or is consciousness spirit, reflected in our capacity to transform through love?

When I reached page 232 I wanted to stop. Jane . . . Jain says, ‘I love him. He loves me. It isn’t a boast. I can hardly believe it myself. But he does. Oh God, he does. And, I am happy.

This moment reflects the perfect lightness of being, the epiphany before the fall—I longed to stay in this Eden of consciousness—the brilliance before expulsion from the garden. But Tanith holds us to our mythologies that say the ‘fall’ is necessary—separation is necessary for soul growth.

TSML is an extraordinary tale of erotic love and the lasting transformation it brings. Highly recommended. Who else has read it? Please share your thoughts!

arrows of timeKim Falconer is the author of The Spell of Rosette, Quantum Enchantment Book 1. She lives in Byron Bay in Australia with two black cats. As well as writing, she runs Falcon Astrology, and I am sure wishes you all Happy Solstice for yesterday and Happy New Moon today! Her next book, Arrows in Time, Quantum Enchantment Book 2, is due out in August 2009. Look out for a post from Tanith Lee herself, coming this week, all about The Silver Metal Lover.

3 Responses

  1. Dear Kim,
    Thank you so much for this lovely post. I loved reading it! And as you know, I love this book too. I find the concept of a soul fascinating – and the idea you have raised, that you might ‘grow’ a soul, rather than being born with it. After all, isn’t this what most humans do, really? Learning about how our actions affect others, drinking in the beauty and pain of the world and feeling this change us? All of these things cause us to be different, to grow, and I think this part of what creates that energy or bundle of self that is soul. Of course, Tanith Lee also raises the question, what happens when that soul is unhoused, or released from the body … and no one can answer that with certainty, I think, just hope.

    Another of Tanith Lee’s books that deals with some of these themes is ‘Biting the Sun’ – see a review and comparison here: http://www.tor.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=blog&id=4965 ‘This is the subversive feminist version of the desert city with robots at the end of time.’

    Thanks Kim!

  2. Thank you for the link. Nat. I am going to read Biting the Sun next! (I found an Aus source here: http://www.fishpond.com.au/advanced_search_result.php?rid=214678347&cat=all&keywords=biting+the+sun ) Looking forward to it, especially after reading this review/comparison to Clarke.

    And thank you for your comments on growing a soul. I agree, it’s what we do as humans and the journey of ‘soul growth’ is very much the hero’s journey, portrayed in our stories and mythologies. As you say, we drink in the actions, challenges, beauty and pain and are, if present, changed by them. When it’s a lasting transformation, life itself becomes erotic (in the ancient Greek sense of the word). Life becomes love.

    ‘Soul growth’ is a term used commonly in astrological circles, often in relationship to the planet Pluto. It caries with it concepts of death, rebirth and transformation — the cycle of life-death-life seen in the Hades-Persephone myth, Psyche and Eros, Aphrodite and Adonis, Inanna and Ereskagal, Isis and Osiris . . . All stories of how life and love can enrich our souls.

    I also loved the way Tanith Lee handle the ‘unhoused’ soul question. And you’re right about it not being completely knowable. It reminds me of something Oscar Wilde said–The essence of romance is uncertainty. We might say that the essence of life is uncertainty too.

    Thanks again for your comments. I feel honoured to guest blog about this book!
    🙂 Kim

  3. […] erotic, soul transforming writing of Tanith Lee like? Here is a glimpse, from a post I did on the Voyager Blog a few years ago. It’s one of my favourite passages. I […]

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