Speed of Dark

Speed of Dark

4.2 41
by Elizabeth Moon
     
 

ISBN-10: 0345481399

ISBN-13: 2900345481398

Pub. Date: 06/28/2005

Publisher: Random House Publishing Group

In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They…  See more details below

Overview

In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They will be made active and contributing members of society. But they will never be normal.

Lou Arrendale is a member of that lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the awards of medical science. Part of a small group of high-functioning autistic adults, he has a steady job with a pharmaceutical company, a car, friends, and a passion for fencing. Aside from his annual visits to his counselor, he lives a low-key, independent life. He has learned to shake hands and make eye contact. He has taught himself to use “please” and “thank you” and other conventions of conversation because he knows it makes others comfortable. He does his best to be as normal as possible and not to draw attention to himself.
But then his quiet life comes under attack. It starts with an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism in adults. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music–with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world–shades and hues that others cannot see? Most importantly, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings?Would it be easier for her to return the love of a “normal”?
There are intense pressures coming from the world around him–including an angry supervisor who wants to cut costs by sacrificing the supports necessary to employ autistic workers. Perhaps even more disturbing are the barrage of questions within himself. For 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.
Thoughtful, provocative, poignant, unforgettable, The Speed of Dark is a gripping exploration into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.

Author Biography: Elizabeth Moon is a native Texan who grew up two hundred and fifty miles south of San Antonio. After earning a degree in history from Rice University, she spent three years in the Marine Corps, then earned a degree in Biology from the University of Texas, Austin. She is intimately acquainted with autism, through the raising of an autistic son, now a teenager. She lives in Florence, Texas.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
2900345481398
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
06/28/2005
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
384

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The Speed of Dark 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 39 reviews.
Jeff_Y More than 1 year ago
What makes you normal? Who decides what normal is? Do others have the right to make you normal? Is there a place for everyone in society? Lou Arrendale has found his own way in our world without compromising who he is. He's got a job that utilizes his abilities, but the upper management at his company feels that people like Lou are pandered to and given expensive benefits. Suddenly Lou is given the opportunity to change from the autistic existence he knows to that of a "normal" person through a new therapy. But how much of Lou's identity is tied into his present state? Is Lou really being given a choice? Suddenly everything that Lou has done to find a stable and comprehensible path in life is called into question. While he grows in his ability to deal with challenges by overcoming the adversity of persecution- Lou still feels the desire to change for many reasons. Elizabeth Moon gives us a rich look at the nature of identity and a future that offers a choice that has many answers. Lou's perception of reality is brought forth very clearly in the book and it effects how the reader progesses through the story creating a clear path of empathy to his situation. One to make you think...
Guest More than 1 year ago
The story develops superbly starting with the first person perspective of the story's hero Lou. Adequate, but incomplete, descriptions allow the reader to feel the same process of learning that Lou does as we come to understand what he is doing and why. Anyone who has felt panicked and tongue-tied can relate to Lou's discomfort in some situations. Elizabeth Moon wrote this novel giving us an educated guess at the internal workings of the autistic mind. The possibility of a mental adjustment to Lou throughout the story makes one stop to think about what is common, normal, and whether or not that is truly superior to being uncommon. The struggle in the story challenges us to examine change, choices, and sacrifice. The general comparison for this novel will be Flowers for Algernon, but this has only superficial similarities. It is its own, very good, story.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Wouldn¿t you like to know the speed of dark? Well Lou Arrendale did. Looking at the world from an autistic eye, Lou thought of thought provoking questions looked at life¿s details that 'normal' people would have surpassed. Lou may have lived his life different, acted, appeared or thought differently but it didn¿t disable him. Disability is defined by the people who call themselves average. How would they know if it were better to be different then normal? No one knows. Lou lived a normal life, for him at least. He owned an apartment and a car, he worked at a pharmaceutical company and he had hobbies such as fencing and listening to classical music. He saw patterns and beauty in ways an average human would never see. Lou was challenged with the thought of becoming ¿normal¿ with new age medicine. Would he see the world in its beauty that it is if he became normal or would he lose that gift? Would becoming normal be beneficial to his way of life, or to win over a woman whom he thought he has no chance with? Only Lou can decide which path he will travel on. This book gave me much more insight in the world of autism. My brother is autistic and more often than not I cannot understand the way he thinks though I have attempted. It has made the world a bit brighter by thinking of ¿normalcy¿. Moons writing helped me in many ways in seeing the peculiar ways these gifted people see. I would not call autism a disability. It is just a different way of looking at the world.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is an amazing book. The fact that it is told from the perspective of someone who actually is autistic is a refreshing change from other fantasy and science fiction novels that have tried to portray the life of someone disabled. I think that it does lead one to ask the question what would they do if they had a power to see the world like no one else could if they would give it up just to be normal. I think that Ms. Moon's going off of her own life experiences have an autistic child show her growth as a writer. Not many would have been brave enough to do that. She shows the world that they are people no more no less then anyone else
cloggiedownunder More than 1 year ago
“Autistic is different, not bad. It is not wrong to be different. Sometimes it is hard, but it is not wrong.” Speed of Dark is the second stand-alone novel by American author, Elizabeth Moon. It is set in the near-future. Lou Arrendale is an autistic man in his late thirties, working as a bioinformatics specialist with several autistic colleagues in the Analysis Section of a large Pharmaceutical company. Born too early for the curative treatments available to infants later born with this condition, Lou is part of a select group of autistics whose unusual needs are supported as their unique skills are utilised. Lou lives independently, supporting himself and enjoying the routines that make his life reassuringly predictable: shopping on Tuesdays, cleaning his car on Saturdays, church on Sundays and fencing practice with his friends Tom and Lucy on Wednesdays. He loves the stars, classical music and, lately, Marjory, one of his fencing friends.  But things are changing in Lou’s life: the new division head, Mr Crenshaw, seems to dislike the autistic employees; Tom is encouraging Lou to fence in a tournament; someone is vandalising his car. Lou feels he is changing too. He and his colleagues are being coerced into a new clinical trial for an experimental treatment to alter their brains, to remove their autism, to make them “normal”. But will this treatment change who they are? Reactions to this opportunity are understandably polarised.  Moon uses two narrative strands: Lou’s experience is told in the first person; characters observing him (Tom Fennell, Pete Aldrin) are told in the third person. Moon’s experience with autism is evident in every paragraph: Lou’s voice is authentic and Moon touches on many topical themes, some particularly relevant to those on the autism spectrum: the ethics of chemical restraint, the medicalisation of variations from the norm, bullying and intimidation, what defines self and the importance of memory. This is a powerful and thought-provoking read. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Elizabeth Moon shows real insight into the mind of autistic people. I had trouble putting ing down. Well worth reading again.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very thought provoking, well written book pondering the questing of who we are. Interesting subject, well written, enjoyed it very much.
The_hibernators More than 1 year ago
Lou Arrendale is a high-functioning autistic man in a near-future world. When his employer starts to put pressure on him to be one of the first human subjects in a dangerous brain-altering experimental “cure” for autism, he questions what it is to be Lou. Is his autism part of his personality? What does it mean to be “normal?” Are the normals even normal? This book is full of deep questions of identity and categorizing of humans. It is also about mistreatment of disabled people by bigots. In fact, I thought the bigotry was a little over-done to the point of not being realistic…but maybe this is Moon’s idea of what the near future will be like. Or maybe I’m naïve. :) This book was very thought-provoking and interesting, though I thought it lacked verisimilitude. And there were three (apparently) independent secondary characters named Bart within a 25 paged interval. Not sure what Moon was trying to say there—maybe she really likes the name Bart. :) Anyway, despite my nit-pickiness, I thought it was quite a good book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was very easy to get lost in this book and only took a few days to read because i didnt want to put it down. The characters emotions came through very well and braught me nearly to tears more than once. The ending is bittersweet, but it left me happy.
Guest More than 1 year ago
The Speed of Dark provides a fascinating and unique glimpse into the mysterious world of the autistic. Written with clarity and feeling from the perspective of the autistic Lou Arrendale, Elizabeth Moon draws the reader into his perceptions in a manner that would be impossible using any other technique. Because of this and other similarities, there will be many comparisons of this novel with Flowers for Algernon. The major difference however is the degree of so-called impediment. Lou is competent and lucid, whereas Charley was not. Each character is given the opportunity to participate in a procedure which would remove their disability and render them ¿normal¿, Lou is capable of making a rational and informed decision, but Charley could not. In point of fact, the aptitude that Lou shows in researching this operation shows he possesses genius level intellect in stark contrast to his lack of social ability due to his differently-wired brain. It is this contrast that drives the narrative. The author makes it clear, as the mother of an autistic son, that autism and intelligence can mix. This, and the concept that autism is not a disease to cure, seem to be the main point of this novel. This book could just as easily have been written about a black person in an all white community. There is obviously nothing intrinsically wrong with the autistic or black person, but in a community where he or she is unique, the onus of being different will fall upon this hapless victim. The major difference here is that the autistic person may not be able to put a voice to this issue. Lou Arrendale does, with feeling and passion. He knows who he is and does not understand why anyone would want him to be otherwise. The novel is thoughtful, warm, and engaging. Lou evokes our pity and wonder simultaneously, quickly shifting from helpless child to crippled genius. The manner in which he manages his unrequited love for Marjory and the anger and jealousy directed at him by a man he considered his friend shows a self-contradictory combination of competence and ineptitude, which serve to make the character that much more realistic. I would recommend this book to anyone wishing to further understand those with different abilities. The insights one can gain from reading this work are invaluable. Well done.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Another great book.
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Walked in and sat down opening her binder writing in it and doing research on things
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