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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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 it, get together and talk about the themes raised in the book. Speed of Dark was our first book. It was a perfect one to start with. The book raises so many questions about disability, about...
Published on Oct. 7 2007 by Dave and Joe

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Questions; Bad Answers
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...
Published on Feb. 24 2004 by Amazon Customer


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Should he? Shouldn't he?, Oct. 7 2007
By 
Dave and Joe (Toronto, Ontario) - See all my reviews
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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 it, get together and talk about the themes raised in the book. Speed of Dark was our first book. It was a perfect one to start with. The book raises so many questions about disability, about autism, about the human condition. The question of cure, the idea of 'needing fixed' was a huge one for the book club members. We all felt very passionately about the end of the book. This is a book that leaves one feeling conflicted ... should he take the cure? is he fine the way he is? what could be gained? what could be lost? This book allows a glimpse into a mind that works well but works differently. Elizabeth Moon manages to create a character that it is impossible not to identify with ... despite the autism maybe even because of the autism. A great read, but warning ... you will need to talk about the ending with someone ... absolutely need to.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Questions; Bad Answers, Feb. 24 2004
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (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
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (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. He does his grocery shopping on Tuesdays regardless; he does his laundry at the same time on the same day of the week; there are certain programs he watches and computer contacts he makes when he is home and these activities are generally performed at the same time.
Lou is also a fencer. His fencing coaches, Tom and Lucia, take him under his wing and commiserate with his dissatisfaction over the Center and an especially unpleasant client named Emma there. Emma is rude and hostile; she makes personal attacks on Lou one Tuesday when he is shopping. She tells him that his crush on Marjory, a fencing partner will come to nothing as Marjory is NT and only sees Lou as an experiement or charity case. I didn't like the way Lou naively defended Emma, even when it was plain to all and sundry just how hateful she was.
Someone else has targeted Lou. Three attacks have been made on his car. His tires are slashed; his windshield broken and later, a bomb is found under the hood. Unmasking the culprit and subduing the culprit is where Lou demonstrates his pattern analytical skills; the legal penalty for malicious mischief is to have a computer chip embedded in the brain so as to rewire/reprogram the brain from future violence.
The book is beautifully written. One humorous thing I caught was in Chapter 12, when Lou, says "Mr. Arendale (meaning Mr. Aldrin, his company supervisor) looks worried." Lou IS Mr. Arrendale! A piece of political humor can be found as well in a text Lou is reading by an author named Clinton whose co-author has the middle name of Rodham. Clever! I like that.
Lou and the other people in his unit, all of whom have autism are given the option to undergo an experimental treatment to restructure their brains and "cure" them of the neurobiological condition. Naturally there are questions; their angel of a supervisor Mr. Aldrin goes to bat for them and is able to rescind a previous order the company's CEO, Mr. Crenshaw, who is an autistophobe and wants to eliminate Lou's unit from the company. Mr. Aldrin is able to go through the legal channels to ensure job security and to make this a voluntary and not a compulsory decision.
A masterpiece of a book that recognizes the sensory responses and concerns of people with autism. My favorite part was when Lou dispells a tired myth about people with autism not caring what others think of them. That is not true. People with autism as do NT people care very much about how others perceive them. "What will people think of me" has long been a plaint among many people in deciding whether or not to disclose having autism.
As Lou said in the book, NT people self-stim and engage in repetition and other behaviors that they are highly critical of when done by people with autism. Lou does an exemplary job of pointing out this double standard. I really like the way Lou ruminates over Scripture; the beautiful description of a Catholic mass and his assessment of very esoteric concepts. This is light years and full speed ahead of the cliche Rainman routine!
This book deserves a place of honor!
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4.0 out of 5 stars A fascinating look on people!, July 1 2004
By 
Alexander Gitlits (Moscow, Russia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (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 Thoughtful, but sometimes frustrating, July 1 2004
By 
Peter McCluskey (Berkeley, CA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (Paperback)
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 identity.
But what it leaves out is sometimes frustrating. The ending is a bit too cryptic. The ape research that plays an important role in the story is hardly explained at all, as if it could only be understood by experts, when it seems to me that the research must have included some observations of behavioral changes in the apes that an average person could understand and which should influence the protagonist in his difficult choice.
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4.0 out of 5 stars CHAPTER TWENTY ONE, June 26 2004
By 
D. Knouse (vancouver, washington United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (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. I have never been a fan of writers who have their characters self-reflect for pages on end, but that very short section was the only moment where I thought the author let out the slack a little too far. The rest is very enjoyable. This book is thoughtfully written and obviously very personal for the author, Elizabeth Moon, who is the mother of an autistic child. While reading this book don't be surprised to find yourself finding patterns in multi-colored carpet fibers or architecture or other things with a definite or potential mathematical structure to them. The main character's profession involves pattern analysis and it echoed into my own life on more than one occasion. This book affected me on many levels, altering my perspective about people and how they relate to one another, and to a lesser degree whether or not "change" is a good thing or not when considering individuality. Any book that makes me think is definitely worth recommending to others. On the cover of this novel is a picure of a white-and-red pinwheel with several rows of binary numbers overlapping the cover from top to bottom. After reading this book the cover makes more sense than ever before. That, and I will never look at a pinwheel in the future without thinking fondly about this book. Pick up this splendid novel and enjoy! Thank you for reading my review.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Soul resonator, June 20 2004
By A Customer
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (Paperback)
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. The latest such book is this one, The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon. If you have any interest in questions about how we treat individuals who are different in our society, you will find this read rewarding.
I recommend it highly, and I think the complaints about the shallowness of the villianous characters is undeserved. Of course Lou doesn't understand their motivations for hurting him. Neither do I. And it's the nature of his condition not to understand.
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2.0 out of 5 stars Where's the Beef?, June 11 2004
By 
R. Myer - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (Paperback)
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 life, often covering the same ground over and over and over. Precious few - and rather threadbare - pages were devoted to exploring what was purported to be the major theme of 'normalcy'.
How this book won the Nebula award for best novel, I'll never know - except that somebody has to win each year. If this is the best Sci Fi had to offer during the award period, it was indeed a poor year.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Written from the Soul, May 31 2004
By 
Phil Marcus "Phil Marcus" (Beaverton, OR USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (Hardcover)
I have read Elizabeth Moon's novels before - her hard, military-type, sci-fi. Those were written with a novelist's pen. Speed of Dark was written from the soul of a mother of an autistic. It is far less sci-fi than most sci-fi, far more about social relations among people, autistic and otherwise, and especially where the twain meet. And is it perhaps so that many of us, save only the total sensor of human signals - Bill Clinton, have some autism in ourselves? This novel leads one to look inside.
Some of this nvel's side characters are, frankly, cardboard and stereotypical, especially the villian Crenshaw, whom one might see in a Dilbert strip. But the protagonist Lou and his friends are real. That reality overcomes the small lack of depth in Crenshaw and his sometime henchman Aldrin.
Like the real world, the book is about choices, but here they are being made in many cases by people whose choices are limited, although not less consequential than for others. Others, with a full range of choices, choose to self-limit.
I do not want to give the plot away, but I wlll ask this: where does Lou go from here? Is there a follow up?
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent read!, May 25 2004
This review is from: The Speed of Dark (Paperback)
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 pretty much all of us). This book ranks up there with those of the Old School: "Childhood's End", "I,Robot", "Foundation", "Stranger in a Strange Land", "Puppet Masters", as well as those of the New School: "Neuromancer", "Cryptonomicon", "Snow Crash", "Altered Carbon", "Broken Angels", "Prey", and "Cyber Hunter".
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Speed Of Dark
Speed Of Dark by Elizabeth Moon (Paperback - Nov. 7 2002)
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