Tenth anniversary edition • With a new Introduction by the author
In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Lou Arrendale, a high-functioning autistic adult, is a member of the lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the rewards of medical science. He lives a low-key, independent life. But then he is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental “cure” for his condition. 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 important, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Now 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 journey into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.
Praise for The Speed of Dark
“Splendid and graceful . . . A lot of novels promise to change the way a reader sees the world; The Speed of Dark actually does.”—The Washington Post Book World
“[A] beautiful and moving story . . . [Elizabeth] Moon is the mother of an autistic teenager and her love is apparent in the story of Lou. He makes a deep and lasting impact on the reader while showing a different way of looking at the world.”—The Denver Post
“Every once in a while, you come across a book that is both an important literary achievement and a completely and utterly absorbing reading experience—a book with provocative ideas and an equally compelling story. Such a book is The Speed of Dark.”—Fort Lauderdale Sun-Sentinel
“A remarkable journey [that] takes us into the mind of an autistic with a terrible choice: become normal or remain an alien on his own planet.”—Mary Doria Russell, author of The Sparrow
“A powerful portrait . . . an engaging journey into the dark edges that define the self.”—The Seattle Times
Showing 1-2 of the 2 most recent reviews
1 . Interesting but not quite engaging
Posted January 20, 2010 by Rodman Arabi , Londonthe book does a great job of making you see the world through the eyes of an autistic person but its naive depiction of corporate environment where half of the story happens makes it diffcult to feel immersed in the story.
2 . Intelligent and honest, funny and moving.
Posted March 09, 2009 by Kath , Small Town, PAI LOVED this book! It was riveting,and I could not put it down. I am amazed at how the unique perception of autistic persons both enhances and diminishes their quality of life. The struggles they contend with and their ability to cope are fascinating. If you are curious at all about how the human mind works, you will not be disappointed in this book.
December 31, 2002
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Excerpt from The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
Questions, always questions. They didn't wait for the answers, either. They rushed on, piling questions on questions, covering every moment with questions, blocking off every sensation but the thorn stab of questions.
And orders. If it wasn't, "Lou, what is this " it was, "Tell me what this is." A bowl. The same bowl, time after time. It is a bowl and it is an ugly bowl, a boring bowl, a bowl of total and complete boring blandness, uninteresting. I am uninterested in that uninteresting bowl.
If they aren't going to listen, why should I talk
I know better than to say that out loud. Everything in my life that I value has been gained at the cost of not saying what I really think and saying what they want me to say.
In this office, where I am evaluated and advised four times a year, the psychiatrist is no less certain of the line between us than all the others have been. Her certainty is painful to see, so I try not to look at her more than I have to. That has its own dangers; like the others, she thinks I should make more eye contact than I do. I glance at her now.
Dr. Fornum, crisp and professional, raises an eyebrow and shakes her head not quite imperceptibly. Autistic persons do not understand these signals; the book says so. I have read the book, so I know what it is I do not understand.
What I haven't figured out yet is the range of things they don't understand. The normals. The reals. The ones who have the degrees and sit behind the desks in comfortable chairs.
I know some of what she doesn't know. She doesn't know that I can read. She thinks I'm hyperlexic, just parroting the words. The difference between what she calls parroting and what she does when she reads is imperceptible to me. She doesn't know that I have a large vocabulary. Every time she asks what my job is and I say I am still working for the pharmaceutical company, she asks if I know what pharmaceutical means. She thinks I'm parroting. The difference between what she calls parroting and my use of a large number of words is imperceptible to me. She uses large words when talking to the other doctors and nurses and technicians, babbling on and on and saying things that could be said more simply. She knows I work on a computer, she knows I went to school, but she has not caught on that this is incompatible with her belief that I am actually nearly illiterate and barely verbal.