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The Speed of Dark (Ballantine Reader's Circle) Paperback – March 2, 2004
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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
Lou has learned to function well enough within "normal" society to hold a job and to live independently. His company recognized that people with autism often have an unusual talent for pattern-recognition and created an autist-friendly division in which Lou and other people with autism work. Problems arise when a new supervisor questions the cost-effectiveness of the program and suggests (in a most coercive way) that Lou and his coworkers undergo an experimental procedure which may "cure" them of their autism.
As the parent of two children who fall on the autism spectrum, I commend Ms. Moon's grasp of the major issues and their implications. She clearly understands the limitations that sensory integration disorder (the inability to efficiently and accurately process sensory input) places on life skills, the need for routine, and the feeling of living in an alien environment while surrounded by humanity. In fact, what I found most compelling was Lou's continual analysis of his every action, his need to evaluate and reevaluate, so as to appear "normal". Each day required thousands of decisions, decisions most of us make intuitively and without thought. The most mundane activities--walking through airport security, asking a woman out, deciding where and what to eat--become trials for him.Read more ›
I suffer from a mood disorder that is similar to clinical depression. It's hard to describe. Periodically, I will feel either normal or incredibly depressed for no apparent reason. Many people thought I was simply being difficult or being "whiny." I wish it were that easy. Recently I have begun taking medication to help this condition. It limits my mood swings to bearable levels, but it is something that has, and will, always be a part of me. Being this way as a child certainly set me apart from other kids and I was often the subject of ridicule, just as Lou was.
Although Autism is certainly more severe than what I suffer from, I recognized many of the questions that Lou asked himself. What are they trying to tell me? I know I should say something, but what? They are looking at me funny, did I say the wrong thing? Was that a social cue? Should I have responded to that?
I don't pretend to be a Lou Arrendale, but I saw parts of myself when I read this book. Now I wonder: What if I was offered the chance to change? What if I could become a "normal" person? Would I do it? And if I did, would I be the same person? Would I be better, or worse? I used to think that I wanted to be more like everyone else, to be able to socialize with others without concern, to not have to worry about what mood I will be in when I am at work or class. After having read this book, I'm not so sure anymore. Maybe if I were to become "normal," I would no longer be myself.Read more ›
Others elsewhere ably limn the story's plot; surprisingly, few note how Elizabeth Moon has used the medium (its context) to help tell her tale -- and convey her message -- via employing a style at once affectless yet lucid. This is a worthy parallel (and metaphor) to protagonist Lou Arrendale's changed mental and emotional state, and showcases an author at the top of her form.
I enjoyed the insights about "pattern recognition"; I enjoyed learning about the inner world of fencing; I enjoyed the insights into the inner turmoil autistics (and those close to them) suffer; I enjoyed reading each word, as 340 pages flew by. Chapter 18, in particular, left me agog in wonder, and I immediately re-read it to savor its finer qualities.
Yet don't let my dry prose deter you from a stellar reading experience. Recommended.
That is the premise of the book. I found it intriguing and engrossing to read. I stayed up several nights until 1:30 am reading this book, I didn't want to put it down or leave off where I was at in the book.
Initially, when the book arrived and I read the content, "autistic person struggles" I was prepared to do my duty, read the book and give the review, anticipating that this would be another boring book on the hardships of person suffering from autism.
Boy did I miss the mark! Yes, that is part of what the book is about. But even more, this book is about how we look for acceptance from self and others, how we interact with the world, how we interact with others, the constant and evolving process of developing our own process of understanding and making sense out of the world and defining our place in it. This book also asks us to question "social convention" as to whether it is an honest interaction between people, or even an honest response.
While discussing the main characters difficulty reading social cues, Ms. Moon asks us to question our own acuity in reading emotional nuance, facial cues, body cues, intonation meanings and the many other cues and signals that we process constantly, often automatically. How often have I decided I knew what another person meant, only to find out how grossly wrong I was in my ascertaining their response. I could certainly stand improvement in my abilities to read these cues and the resulting decisions that I make. Ultimately, Ms. Moon encourages us to openly discuss our assumptions and interpretations. She is quite right.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I have read Elizabeth Moons, Remnant Population more than twenty times. It is one of my favorite books. I reread it every so often because I enjoy it so much. Read morePublished 7 days ago by PhntmBlackIce
Wow what an amazing story told mostly in first person from a autistic persons viewpoint. Read it for my book club and it was a great discussionPublished 10 days ago by Amazon Customer
This was a good story. No sad ending to worry about. And it made me think. But also, How many of my SCA friends fit in here somewhere?Published 2 months ago by K. Partridge
Pros: Strong narrator with a compelling voice, sucked me in and made me finish this in one day. Interesting philosophical debates. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Owen Bondono
I didn't like the ending. Even though the ending is inevitable for the story, I felt let down. Other than that, I quite enjoyed the story. Read morePublished 2 months ago by Miriam N. Paschal
In a future world it is good to think that autistic people will be honored for the gifts they have. Lou is an amazing person. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Kathy Jordan
Wow. What a profound book. Very occasionally you will read a book that sticks with you, that you think about again and again, that changes your perceptions of the world. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Eric Ribbens
Fascinating book! Well written, intelligent, and extremely interesting.Published 3 months ago by Fine Weather