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Speed Of Dark [Paperback]

Elizabeth Moon
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 14.71 & FREE Shipping on orders over CDN$ 25. Details
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Book Description

Nov. 7 2002
Lou is different to 'normal' people. He interacts with the world in a way they do not understand. He might not see the things they see, however, but he also sees many things they do not. Lou is autistic. One of his skills is an ability to find patterns in data: extraordinary, complex, beautiful patterns that not even the most powerful computers can comprehend. The company he works for has made considerable sums of money from Lou's work. But now they want Lou to change - to become 'normal' like themselves. And he must face the greatest challenge of his life. To understand the speed of dark. SPEED OF DARK is a powerful near-future thriller, the theme of which is both universal and intensely personal. It is dedicated to the author's own autistic son, and to other parents of autistic children, 'in the hope that they also find that delight in difference'. Find out more about this title and others at www.orbitbooks.co.uk

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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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

"If I had not been what I am, what would I have been?" wonders Lou Arrendale, the autistic hero of Moon's compelling exploration of the concept of "normalcy" and what might happen when medical science attains the knowledge to "cure" adult autism. Arrendale narrates most of this book in a poignant earnestness that verges on the philosophical and showcases Moon's gift for characterization. The occasional third-person interjections from supporting characters are almost intrusive, although they supply needed data regarding subplots. At 35, Arrendale is a bioinformatics specialist who has a gift for pattern analysis and an ability to function well in both "normal" and "autistic" worlds. When the pharmaceutical company he works for recommends that all the autistic employees on staff undergo an experimental procedure that will basically alter their brains, his neatly ordered world shatters. All his life he has been taught "act normal, and you will be normal enough"-something that has enabled him to survive, but as he struggles to decide what to do, the violent behavior of a "normal friend" puts him in danger and rocks his faith in the normal world. He struggles to decide whether the treatment will help or destroy his sense of self. Is autism a disease or just another way of being? He is haunted by the "speed of dark" as he proceeds with his mesmerizing quest for self-"Not knowing arrives before knowing; the future arrives before the present. From this moment, past and future are the same in different directions, but I am going that way and not this way.... When I get there, the speed of light and the speed of dark will be the same." His decision will touch even the most jaded "normal."
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Questions; Bad Answers Feb. 24 2004
Format:Hardcover
Moon uses the story of an autistic man to ask fundamental questions about the nature of identity and of self. During the first two thirds of the book, where the questions are being asked, I was fascinated. Unfortunately, the answers that she gives in the last third of the book are one-dimensional and trite.
The story line starts off interesting, but finishes too deus ex machina for my taste. The secondary characters are generally fairly one dimensional. It is worth reading for the questions that Moon asks of her characters and her readers. However, it is a shame that the promise of the book finishes so disappointingly.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Corporate Autism May 3 2005
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
Although I am not an avid fan of the science fiction genre, I did love this book along with Celia Rees' young adult novel, "The Truth Out There," both of which merge different literary genres and have delightful characters with autism. This book together with Mark Haddon's "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night Time" make for some excellent adult literature about autism.
The protagonist of this story, Lou Arrendale, is a man who has autism. He works for a large company as a systems/patterns analyst. His cubicle is adorned with mobiles and other sensory treats that provide patterns for him to focus on when he goes on sensory overload. Visual patterns can be very soothing and this finding is not limited to people on the autism/Asperger's (a/A) spectrum. Many neurotypical (NT) people love watching fish in aquaria, for example.
I loved the way physics was included in this story; Lou's co-worker, Linda, who has severe autism and loves astronomy wonders if light as a speed and if its inverse, darkness does as well. Linda poses an interesting question: if light has a speed, would it not be pulled into a black hole by gravity? I think that light probably has a METAphysical speed, just as time is a metaphyiscal gauge and its counterpart space is a physical measure. I love that sort of thing.
Lou, while clearly autistic sounds closer to the Asperger's end of the spectrum. He is bright; verbal; independent and able to grasp very abstract concepts. His autism is manfested in his slavishness to routines, even when those routines are not practical.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look on people! July 1 2004
Format:Paperback
"The Speed of Dark" tells a story of an autistic man, Lou, in a near future. The date is not specified, but it should be around 2040. Our protagonist works for a big firm, doing pattern recognition, but a new manager deciedes, that he will be better as a guinea pig for a new method to cure autism. So, this looks like a thriller, a man against the system, that kind of thing.
But it's not. This story, told from Lous' point of view, is a tale of his trying to understand 'normal' people. And it's a wonderful look on people, which managed to paint the autistic persons more human, then the 'normal' ones. Lous' attempts to understand human behaviour, to see patterns in it are very interesting, and gave me food for thought for a long time to come.
There are several drawbacks to the novel.
One is the black and white colors of the characters, which make the bad guys of the novel more caricatures, then realistic characters. While it can be justified by the overall structure and purpose of the novel, I would liek them, at least, not to be so in-your-face-arrogant-SOBs.
Another drawback for me was the adrupt ending of the book. I won't get into the details, but at one point Lou had to make a very seriouse decision. The results of it are given just a couple of pages, and one of the storylines, which was very important, and a delight to read, got only ONE SENTENCE!
Still, this book told me a lot, not only about autistic people, but also about myself. Read it.
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4.0 out of 5 stars CHAPTER TWENTY ONE June 26 2004
Format:Paperback
4.5 Stars. What made me want to read this novel was two-fold: it won the Nebula Award and it has often been referred to in the same breath as "Flowers for Algernon" by Daniel Keyes. The Nebula Award is not always given to the book I would choose, but any story mentioned with Daniel Keyes' fantastic short story(later expanded by the author into a fine novel) is worth any Science Fiction fan's attention. As for the title of my review, "CHAPTER TWENTY ONE" is the chapter in "The Speed of Dark" where I thought that perhaps this novel had initially been a short story and later expanded, as well. I will return to this book again many times in the future just to read from that chapter to the end of the book. I lost sleep reading this book, which is always a sign that the novel has me enthralled. As for negatives, there are a few minor complaints such as one of the villainous characters in the story getting his come-uppance a little too easily, "And the day...is saved!" That plot resolution was too tidy and too quickly resolved. The first twenty chapters are solid 4-star material with some excellent writing and a genuinely original perspective from the protagonist, Lou Arrendale, who is an autistic man given the chance at a cure for his condition. The only other negative I felt sour about was the all-too-expected and somewhat sanctimonious scene in the novel where Lou is trying to figure out what is "normal" anyway? If the world were predominantly autistic would "normal" people seek treatment to fit in better with society? Anyway, that section does not last long. Read more ›
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Should he? Shouldn't he?
I work for an organization that serves people with disabilities. We have started a disability book club in which we choose a book with a primary character with a disability, all... Read more
Published on Oct. 7 2007 by Dave and Joe
4.0 out of 5 stars Thoughtful, but sometimes frustrating
This book is moderately interesting and mostly well thought out. It portrays the normal life of an autistic person credibly, and cautiously approaches some important dilemmas about... Read more
Published on July 1 2004 by Peter McCluskey
5.0 out of 5 stars Soul resonator
Every few years, I read an sf novel that resonates in my soul, making my life richer for having read it. A few years ago, such a book was The Sparrow, by Mary Doris Russell. Read more
Published on June 20 2004
2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Beef?
The author took a novel and very interesting concept, and one with a lot of potential, and proceeded to come up woefully short after droning on and on about the minutiae of Lou's... Read more
Published on June 11 2004 by R. Myer
5.0 out of 5 stars Written from the Soul
I have read Elizabeth Moon's novels before - her hard, military-type, sci-fi. Those were written with a novelist's pen. Read more
Published on May 31 2004 by Phil Marcus
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!
This is a great book for all of us who feel as if we are just off-center of "normal" (and, let's face it, for those of us who love sci-fi and cyberpunk books, that's... Read more
Published on May 25 2004 by Randall Cabot
5.0 out of 5 stars Aliens Among Us
The Speed of Dark is a singleton SF novel. A couple of decades in the future, autism has become a treatable condition, first via special training of younger children and then via... Read more
Published on May 24 2004 by Arthur W. Jordin
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent
"Normal is just a dryer setting"--something several characters in this excellent novel repeat when autistic people are compared to those who are "normal. Read more
Published on May 2 2004 by Elizabeth Hendry
5.0 out of 5 stars Nebula award winner!
A moving, and at times very philosophical, look at a possible future where autism is better understood. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by James E. Hartman
5.0 out of 5 stars 2003 SFWA Nebula Award winner!
On 17 Apr 2004, this book was awarded a Nebula for Best Novel! Others have written much better reviews, but suffice to say that the award is well deserved. Read more
Published on April 19 2004 by Dranigh
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