I've read some of Elizabeth Moon's military space-opera books before, and enjoyed them - but this is quite a different - and more serious - effort - which resulted in her winning the Nebula Award for 2003.
Influenced by her life with an autistic son, The Speed of Dark tells the story of Lou, a high-functioning autistic adult who is socially (and otherwise) handicapped, but very intelligent, even brilliant, and employed by a pharmaceutical company for his unusual ability to see and understand chemical patterns. However, a new boss comes into Lou's company who neither understands nor likes the autistic employees and is viciously opposed to the steps that have been taken to meet their needs. A new, experimental, treatment for autism is being talked about, and he wants to force the autistic employees into being the first to go to human trials.
There may be an ulterior - and sinister - motive behind this pressure, but the main concern of the book is the ethics behind this 'cure' - what makes an individual themselves, and is it the right thing to do to change someone to make them fit society?
Meanwhile, Lou is also subject to an escalating series of harassment and attacks by a stalker - a rejected and obviously deranged former member of a group that Lou practices fencing with. It's obvious who the culprit is, but Lou, with less understanding of human behavior, is not capable of realizing that a so-called 'friend' may not actually be a friend.
Moon here points out that even so-called 'normal' people may actually be more dysfunctional than autistics. Many interesting issues are raised by the book (which made it a good choice for book club discussion) but I felt like Bear's own feeling are conflicted, and that came through in the book, resulting in a somewhat confused 'message.' Are autistic people 'fine the way they are' or would the benefits conferred by a cure (not least among them the ability to live independently, without assistance), outweigh the possible negative of the cured individual not being exactly the same person? As Lou points out, 'we are all a different person every day' as our experiences change us. But the ending is still bittersweet.
Also, although this book was very interesting, I flt it really suffered in comparison to 'Flowers for Algernon' - which is is EXTREMELY similar to. To the point that it feels like the author said, "I want to rewrite 'Flowers For Algernon', but with autistic people instead of retarded people." But, the older book is just better. It's more tightly and beautifully structured, and has a deeper emotional impact.
I would add at least 1/2 star to the four listed for this book. An amazing look at the world of autism and what could happen if - - . Very enjoyable.
I haven't enjoyed a learning experience this much since I read "The Incident with the dog in the night", written from the viewpoint of a kid with Asberger's syndrome.
It's an interesting story with a sci-fi element, barely. It's very real and you care about the character, he's well written and real.Because the author has an autistic brother, her viewpoint has extra depth.That coupled with her skills as a wonderful author make this her most important book.
Very interesting look at the world of an autistic man who is offered an experimental cure. Thought provoking and enjoyable read.
Fascinating and very well-written book about a future in which autism begins to be cured. It gives an inside-an-autistic-person's head view of how it feels (the writer has an autistic son), how society might support the autistic in being more productive and independent, and looks at the question of whether a person would choose to be "normal" having lived all his life with this difference. Though I was somewhat unhappy with the ending, it was very well worth reading and really made me think.
If you have ever wondered what autism is like from the autistic person's point of view, this book is for you. Written in first person, Lou Arrendale has a job in futuristic America that utilizes his autism. He works with other people that have varying degrees of autism. The company they work for develops a "cure" and wants the autisic ones to volunteer to be guinea pigs. But Lou is afraid that by no longer being autistic, he won't be Lou. Very interesing tale. Even a non-fan of science fiction will enjoy this book.
A different kind of story from Moon; took awhile to get into it, but agood book!
Excellent book. Well written and insightful. It gives you a good perspective into how autistic people perceive things and how they feel. I thoroughly enjoyed every page.
Interesting story told through the voice of a gifted autistic man.
Fascinating story. Very thought-provoking and emotional.
Really wonderful near future tale from the point of view of an autistic man who functions at a high level, holds an excellent job and is offered the chance to be "normal."
This was a very good book about autism and how different people react to it. I liked how Lou could explain to his friends how he viewed the world. I also liked the way he learned more about himself in making his decision.
I really enjoyed this book. It put autism in a new frame of reference for me.
this book written by a mother of an autistic man is about an autistic man and it is set in the future. a future where "they" want to offer experimental treatment of autistic persons.
this moving book is a must read for anyone who knows an autistic person or even if they do not. it provides and incredible understanding of the autistic mind.
An amazing thought provoking book if you love someone who is Autistic.
It's interesting to read a book based on an author's life experience. Moon is a favorite author but I found this book quite different from what I have read in the past. It's the story of an autistic young man and his life, told from his view. It explores how society and most people view those who are autistic. This is a futuristic take on what could happen but the actions of many characters view how many look at those who are autistic. I quite liked this unusual tale.
"Thoughtful, poignant, and unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping exploration into the world of Lou Arrendale, an autistic man who is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental 'cure' for his condition. Now Lou 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."
Amazing book, impossible to put down.
Moon does a good job in reflecting the mind of the autistic. Set in the future where companies get a tax credit for employing the disabled, Lou is a highly functioning employee among a group of autistic employees. They have their own gym, music, and separate working building from others in the company. Lou learns to fence and actually has thoughts about asking a "normal" woman from his fencing group out for dinner. A new section chief determined to cut costs for the company and end the "special" treatment Lou's group receives causes panic and much soul-searching. Lou and his coworkers are offered a chance to be test subjects for a new drug manufactured by their company which will make them normal or be fired. In a subplot Lou's car is vandalized by a jealous man (Don) from the fencing group who is angry that Lou has the attention of Marjory. The violence escalates until Don tries to shot Lou who disarms him with fencing moves.
All is all, a thought provoking novel set in the future but not featuring much high tech or sci fi background.
Fascinating! "The Speed of Dark" is the story of Lou Arrendale, an autistic man. The story is set in the very near future, a time when a cure for autism exists if it is detected early, in infancy. Lou was already older when the cure was developed, but he did benefit from very good learning tools developed for autists that allowed him to develop very good language skills. He works for a pharmaceutical company, in a team of people like himself who, due to their autism, are better than "normal" people at detecting patterns, and they work as computer scientists. He has is own apartment and car, but is still different from other people, and struggles at times with how different "normal" people are from him, and how hard they can be to understand. The story is told from Lou's viewpoint, and it really gives a rare view into the mind of an autistic person. I came away feeling that "normalcy" and autism are all on a continuum, that some of the things each of us do are very similar to what an autistic person does in both action/perception and also degree. The author has an autistic son, so is definitely writing from a position of intimate knowledge and love. Lou becomes one of those very likeable and unforgettable characters.