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The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
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The Speed of Dark (original 2002; edition 2005)

by Elizabeth Moon

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1,736894,078 (4)2 / 188
Member:The_Froo
Title:The Speed of Dark
Authors:Elizabeth Moon
Info:Del Rey (2005), Mass Market Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Your library, Wantmorelike
Rating:****
Tags:None

Work details

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (2002)

  1. 110
    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (tortoise)
    tortoise: Both are well-written novels with a first-person autistic-spectrum narrator. The Curious Incident has a better-constructed plot (the villain in The Speed of Dark is a bit cartoonish), but The Speed of Dark is I think more interesting as a commentary on autism.… (more)
  2. 90
    Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes (infiniteletters)
    infiniteletters: Charlie is definitely not like Lou, true. But their experiences and perspectives have the same mental effect on readers.
  3. 10
    Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold (LamontCranston)
    LamontCranston: Pathological corporate greed, manipulation of the disabled/differently abled, and both for space applications, but Falling Free has a much more proactive response to being exploited
  4. 00
    A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane (2wonderY)
    2wonderY: One of the young wizard's is autistic. For comparison of viewpoint and choices.
  5. 00
    The Warrior's Apprentice by Lois McMaster Bujold (sturlington)
    sturlington: Both young protagonists are dealing with a disability.
  6. 00
    The Island Keeper by Harry Mazer (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For not knowing enough yet.
  7. 00
    The Multiplex Man by James P. Hogan (infiniteletters)
  8. 11
    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the exploration of human intelligences and mental health.
  9. 00
    Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life by Harriet McBryde Johnson (infiniteletters)
  10. 01
    My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor (infiniteletters)
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English (86)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (89)
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
Most of this book is told from the point of view of Lou, an autistic man in a future where autism has been cured, but he was just too young to get the cure, so he and his cohorts are among the last autistic people alive. Lou is capable of living independently and holding a job, where his role is to look for patterns - his employer has realized that autistic brains are valuable to their work, and has created an autistic-friendly workplace. However, a new manager on the job doesn't see the value of the autistic employees, and wants to force the autistic employees to receive a minimally-tested treatment to "cure" their autism.

So obviously the book is exploring two big issues: the ethics of medical research, and whether what the neuro-typical world perceives as a disability is actually a bad thing. Unfortunately, the book is pretty heavy-handed about these issues. The manager who wants to force Lou to get the treatment is totally one-dimensional and unbelievable, and his behavior is so unethical that there is no question of what should actually happen here.

Aside from that, the book totally rambles. There is a whole big sub-plot where a man from Lou's fencing club tries to kill Lou. I guess the point of this sub-plot is to explore what "normal" means and who is really the "handicapped" person here, but this storyline doesn't drive the plot forward at all. The pacing of the story is really strange.... the middle goes on for a really long time, and then it feels like the author got tired of writing and wrote an ending really fast.

The one good thing I can say about the book is that Moon does a convincing job of getting inside the head of an autistic person (although since I am not autistic, I can't answer to how authentic or accurate this is). However, even there, sometimes she is inconsistent about what kind of abstract thought Lou is capable of doing, to the point that I sometimes wondered if he was being given the treatment for autism against his knowledge.

So all in all, there are some interesting concepts here, but the execution is pretty clumsy. ( )
  Gwendydd | Aug 23, 2016 |
I really liked the beginning, but then it just got too boring. The last chapter was in my opinion the most interesting one though. ( )
  BellaStormborn | Aug 1, 2016 |
A solid read for me. Moon imagines a near-future where autism has been cured but there is a percentage of people that were born slightly too early to receive the genetic fix. The final autistic generation, if you will. A small group of them work at process analysis and pattern-recognition for a large corporate conglomerate. The bulk of the narrative is told in first-person via Lou Arrendale, one of the autistic employees of the company.

When Lou is speaking or contemplating, the story fires on all cylinders. I haven't decided yet if the lack of development of the supporting cast is perhaps an intentional attempt to show how those other characters are perceived via Lou's autistic viewpoint. If so, that only adds to the brilliance of the novel. If not, (and the more I ponder, the less I think it's fully intentional), there is not enough of it to detract very much from Lou's story. And this is Lou's story. From beginning to end, a more compelling protagonist is difficult to come by. The 'voice' that Moon employs as Lou describes his daily routines and how he perceives what people say and do is nearly pitch-perfect. There is gem after gem relating how an autistic person might view terms and speech that us 'normals' take for granted. But then, as the autistics mention once or twice, "Normal is a dryer setting".

Highly recommended. ( )
  ScoLgo | Jun 23, 2016 |
I think the book is worth buying for those of you who don't have a good enough library. It does start a little slow, in that it seems like it might be about to become a little didactic or moralistic. Then it gets exciting, and more gorgeous. The ending is the only bit that's science-fiction'y and I'm still thinking about it.

I've read lots of books, both fiction and memoirs, about autism and related issues (I won't call it a disease) and this is one of the best in a lot of ways. It is also one of the earlier ones, and research is being done aggressively into what autism means and how to address it, so if you're thinking about reading this I recommend you do so soon so you don't have to be confused about the 'accuracy.' Otoh, you might be interested to learn what folks commonly believed, over a decade ago. ( )
  Cheryl_in_CC_NV | Jun 6, 2016 |
I was intrigued because this book was mentioned several times at WisCon’06 as an example of disability in science fiction and austism in general. Congoers had varying opinions—some touted it as the Best Writing About Autism Ever, while others said it was unrealistic. I have little experience with autism (besides being in fandom and reading The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time), so I can’t comment on how realistically Moon recreates an autistic experience. As a book, it’s quite good, albeit overly simplistic at parts (the ending feels rather at odds with the rest of the book, as well). There’s not a whole lot of plot, but there is a good deal of character development. ( )
  wealhtheowwylfing | Feb 29, 2016 |
Showing 1-5 of 86 (next | show all)
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Elizabeth Moonprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Metz, JulieCover designersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Questions, always questions.
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Normal is a setting on a dryer.
I had to learn to say conventional things even when I did not feel them, because that is part of fitting in and learning to get along. Has anyone ever asked Mr. Crenshaw to fit in, to get along?
I wonder, not for the first time, why a woman friend is called a girlfriend and not a womanfriend.
Bad parents make things hard and painful for their children and then say it was to help them grow. Growing and living are hard enough already; children do not need things to be harder.
I do not understand the rules about interrupting. It is always impolite for me to interrupt other people, but other people do not seem to think it is impolite for them to interrupt me in circumstances when I should not interrupt them.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0345481399, Mass Market Paperback)

Corporate life in early 21st-century America is even more ruthless than it was at the turn of the millennium. Lou Arrendale, well compensated for his remarkable pattern-recognition skills, enjoys his job and expects never to lose it. But he has a new boss, a man who thinks Lou and the others in his building are a liability. Lou and his coworkers are autistic. And the new boss is going to fire Lou and all his coworkers--unless they agree to undergo an experimental new procedure to "cure" them.

In The Speed of Dark, Elizabeth Moon has created a powerful, complex, and believable portrayal of a man who varies radically from what is defined as "normal." The author insightfully explores the nature of "normality," identity, choice, responsibility, free will, illness and health, and good and evil. The Speed of Dark is a powerful, moving, illuminating novel in the tradition of Flowers for Algernon, Forrest Gump, and Rain Man . --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:18 -0400)

(see all 4 descriptions)

Moon's extraordinary, Nebula Award-winning novel is the story of an autistic man who is offered the chance to be "cured" by science. He must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world and the very essence of who he is.… (more)

(summary from another edition)

» see all 3 descriptions

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