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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

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingConversations / Mentions
1,649814,367 (4.02)2 / 174
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. 20
    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
    The Island Keeper by Harry Mazer (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For not knowing enough yet.
  5. 00
    A Wizard Alone by Diane Duane (2wonderY)
    2wonderY: One of the young wizard's is autistic. For comparison of viewpoint and choices.
  6. 00
    The Multiplex Man by James P. Hogan (infiniteletters)
  7. 11
    This Alien Shore by C. S. Friedman (MyriadBooks)
    MyriadBooks: For the exploration of human intelligences and mental health.
  8. 00
    Too Late to Die Young: Nearly True Tales from a Life by Harriet McBryde Johnson (infiniteletters)
  9. 01
    My Stroke of Insight: A Brain Scientist's Personal Journey by Jill Bolte Taylor (infiniteletters)
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English (78)  French (2)  Hungarian (1)  All languages (81)
Showing 1-5 of 78 (next | show all)
In the near future, an autistic man must decide whether to undergo a procedure to cure his autism, at the risk of losing his essential self.

An interesting book, told convincingly in the voice of an autistic. The narrative provides insight into how autistic brains function and builds empathy for people with the condition. Negatives: The book was overlong, and the autistic narration becomes somewhat repetitive and a little grating. This book is often compared with Flowers for Algernon, which I think is a more appropriate length for an experimental narrative style. Despite that, I found the shifts in point of view to non-autistic characters unpredictable and they tended to break my immersion. My favorite part was the end of the book, when Lou does undergo the procedure, but I had mixed feelings about the ending. I'm not sure what Moon wanted us to take away from it. Overall, I would recommend this, especially for readers curious about autism.

Read for the SFFCat in 2015. ( )
  sturlington | Jun 5, 2015 |
Delphi Greek restaurant, hosted by Carole. We had a very animated discussion. The ideas of self, identity, change and risk. ( )
  Bibliofemmes | May 20, 2015 |
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 | Apr 14, 2015 |
I see now why this book is mentioned so frequently in conjunction with Flowers for Algernon - both concern a narrator who is developmentally disabled and address ideas of the self and personhood using "so there's this experimental treatment that will make you the same as everyone else" devices, though each approaches from a different angle - FfA follows a protagonist who agreed to treatment, and Speed of Dark shows a group of people resistant to pressure to be "cured."

Neither is a perfect work, but when Speed of Dark succeeds it really succeeds, particularly in the characters of Lou and his autistic coworkers. Lou really is a great character, and the could-be-this-world-but-2-decades-in-the-future backdrop is surprisingly rich with cultural detail. Even if many of the subplots were visible a mile out (and staffed by some character tropes straight off the Lifetime network), I was surprised by many of the turns other subplots took and genuinely was not expecting the novel to close as it did.

If I had to complain about anything it would be the point-of-view shifts scattered throughout the novel, which was jarring and really made it seem like the author didn't trust her readers to pick up on all the nuances through Lou's limited viewpoint. ( )
  okrysmastree | Nov 7, 2014 |
I think I have to disagree with a lot of the reviews in that I found the work quite conflicting.

On the one hand the characterization of Lou is well written and rightly deserves credit. But it is a character in search of a plot and story. Repeatedly Lou intends to seek legal advice, and friends announce they will, but then this intention disappears and nothing is done because of course if the characters were to do so it would immediately solve the problem and end the plot a quarter way, or half way, or three quarters way, or at any other point through the book where this is planned and then forgotten about because of requirements for the plot.

Then ultimately the conflict just simply resolves itself and fizzles out.

Another thing which I think is a major reversal of the whole point of the book is the decision to undergo the treatment. The story has just spent its entire time appealing to people that autistics are people to, exploring how they can grow and change and adapt to society, then chucks that all out and says getting a treatment making them normal is preferable. Really? Again just fizzles out. Meanwhile the subtext that the intended 'cure' had a possible ulterior motive as a means of making normal employees more passive is never properly explored.
  LamontCranston | Sep 11, 2014 |
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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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