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The Speed of Darkby Elizabeth Moon
2003 Nebula Award for Best Novel
Synopses & Reviews
In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Unfortunately, there will be a generation left behind. For members of that missed generation, small advances will be made. Through various programs, they will be taught to get along in the world despite their differences. They will be made active and contributing members of society. But they will never be normal.
Lou Arrendale is a member of that lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the awards of medical science. Part of a small group of high-functioning autistic adults, he has a steady job with a pharmaceutical company, a car, friends, and a passion for fencing. Aside from his annual visits to his counselor, he lives a low-key, independent life. He has learned to shake hands and make eye contact. He has taught himself to use "please" and "thank you" and other conventions of conversation because he knows it makes others comfortable. He does his best to be as normal as possible and not to draw attention to himself.
But then his quiet life comes under attack. It starts with an experimental treatment that will reverse the effects of autism in adults. 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 importantly, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Would it be easier for her to return the love of a "normal"?
There are intense pressures coming from the world around him?including an angry supervisor who wants to cut costs by sacrificing the supports necessary to employ autistic workers. Perhaps even more disturbing are the barrage of questions within himself. For 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 exploration into the mind of an autistic person as he struggles with profound questions of humanity and matters of the heart.
"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
"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
Journeys inside the mind of Lou Arrendale, an autistic man, who is asked to undergo a new, experimental treatment designed to cure autism, as he struggles with the question of whether or not he should risk a medical procedure that could make him "normal." Reader's Guide included. Reprint.
An exploration into the world of an autistic man who is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental 'cure' for his condition. He 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.
About the Author
Elizabeth Moon is a native Texan who grew up two hundred and fifty miles south of San Antonio. After earning a degree in history from Rice University, she spent three years in the Marine Corps, then earned a degree in Biology from the University of Texas, Austin. She is intimately acquainted with autism, through the raising of an autistic son, now a teenager. She lives in Florence, Texas.
From the Hardcover edition.
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