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The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

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Book Information  
AuthorElizabeth Moon
TitleThe Speed of Dark
GenreScience Fiction
Book Reviews / Comments (submitted by readers)
Submitted by zooey park 
(May 15, 2007)

The Speed of Dark is told through the eyes of an autistic man named Lou Arrendale. His story takes place sometime in the future when autism can be treated, but not cured. Thus, Lou can speak to people, drive a car, take fencing lessons, and buy groceries, but he still retains the qualities of an autistic person. For example, he has difficulty interpreting facial expressions or understanding everyday chitchat. Moreover, his ability to identify intricate patterns enables him to work successfully for a scientific corporation

We follow Lou on his daily routines. We watch through his eyes. We listen through his ears. And, as we experience the world through his senses, we begin to understand what Lou feels like to be different and an outsider. Lou is aware that he is not "normal" and this brings him to question of why he is the way he is. What was God's intention, if an intention even existed?

The chance to change himself and become "normal" arises from a possible breakthrough discovered by Lou's employers. But, Lou's new manager threatens the entire section with pink slips unless they become guinea pigs.

Problems continue for Lou when one of his "normal" fencing partners becomes violently jealous of him. By the end of the novel, one wonders which of the two is the "normal" and healthy one.

As Lou handles these problems, I found myself really caring about him. I wanted to find out whether he would choose to correct his autism at the risk of changing what made him "Lou". I wanted to know if he would find happiness and love. In short, the novel accomplished what, for me, is a great achievement: bringing a character to life and making me empathize with him.

If there was one criticism I had, it was that the other characters lacked development. They seemed sketch-like, especially when compared with the main character. But, after thinking it over, I realized that, since it was told through Lou's eyes, it was due to his limitations, and not the authorís.

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