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The Speed of Dark Mass Market Paperback – Jun 28 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (June 28 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345481399
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345481399
  • Product Dimensions: 10.5 x 2.5 x 17.4 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 36 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #756,838 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

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

4.5 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

By A Customer on May 3 2005
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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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 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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By Dave and Joe TOP 1000 REVIEWER on Oct. 7 2007
Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
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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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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