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The Speed of Dark | [Elizabeth Moon]

The Speed of Dark

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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...

©2002 Elizabeth Moon; (P)2008 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2003

  • Favorite Audiobooks of 2010 (Fantasy Literature)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

3.9 (408 )
5 star
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4 star
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2 star
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Overall
3.9 (240 )
5 star
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3 star
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1 star
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Story
4.1 (236 )
5 star
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4 star
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3 star
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2 star
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1 star
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Performance
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  •  
    Gretchen 03-24-15
    Gretchen 03-24-15 Member Since 2015

    GretchenMargarita

    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
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    5
    2
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    "Wow"

    I don't have the words to express how incredible this book was. From start to finish, this is a story you want to read.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John PELION, SC, United States 03-20-15
    John PELION, SC, United States 03-20-15 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    4
    ratings
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    14
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    "Best book I've read in maybe 40 years"
    Would you listen to The Speed of Dark again? Why?

    Yes. This book takes you inside the mind of an autistic man in the not-to-distant future. The character, science and situations place you in a constant state of "what's happening next?", "how is he going to react?", "What's really going on?" - while at the same time drawing you into the "autistic state", making you look internally to your foibles, thinking and inclinations. Awesome job for a single book!


    What did you like best about this story?

    The solid first-person way of thinking, analyzing and reacting. The performance by Jay Snyder was exceptional. This is the first book in a long time that created a character so realistic that the only way I can imagine this being successful is in book form - no movie, just in-depth characterization.


    Have you listened to any of Jay Snyder’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    No, but I will...


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    definitely, but did not have the opportunity.


    Any additional comments?

    I don't know how Elizabeth Moon could even "think" the way this character comes across. Makes me want to do research into autism and neurology, Fantastic job!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Minta Amelia Island, FL United States 03-11-15
    Minta Amelia Island, FL United States 03-11-15 Member Since 2013
    HELPFUL VOTES
    29
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    272
    27
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    "Would've been 5 stars, except for ending."

    I loved, loved, loved this book, and wanted to hug the author for the way in which she portrayed this autistic man & all the very, very deep questions he & she posed. I saw things from many, many more perspectives than ever before - & I thought I was a fairly perceptive, empathetic, & mindful person. I could barely turn this off & continued chores long past the point of done, just to keep listening.

    SPOILER ALERT!! I absolutely, positively HATED the choice she had Lou make, as I thought it denigrated all that had gone before; people have amazing worth AS THEY ARE, & who can say what "normal" is? Then the outcome? Too pat! A way to finish the book on an up note, only. It appears Ms. Moon didn't know where to go, after a point, so had Lou make his (awful, to me) choice, & then have everything turn out smelling sweet. That stank, in my opinion.

    HOWEVER! This is still beautifully, wonderfully written, thought-provoking to the nth degree, & OH! Soooo worth a credit & your time. Just grin & bear it at the end, though.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Sacramento, CA 01-31-14
    Amazon Customer Sacramento, CA 01-31-14 Member Since 2006
    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    25
    14
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    "The first half was good"
    What did you like best about The Speed of Dark? What did you like least?

    The second half of the book was ridiculous and so seemingly disconnected with the beginning. There was so much time in developing the main character as likable and sympathetic. He was well grounded and the author seemed to make him self sufficient. Then when he was at his strongest the author makes him feel fallible and want to change. Then the whole change thing was horribly developed and just ended.


    What was most disappointing about Elizabeth Moon’s story?

    Second half


    Which character – as performed by Jay Snyder – was your favorite?

    The main character before the change


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    Don't bother

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Will Gray 12-15-13
    Will Gray 12-15-13

    Will

    ratings
    REVIEWS
    10
    1
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Science fiction as literature"
    What did you like best about this story?

    The story succeeds on the strength of the first-person narrative voice. It makes the protagonist, Lou Arrendale, completely believable while also creating a view on the world that is believably autistic.


    What does Jay Snyder bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Jay Snyder's voices were believable and the differences between characters clear. His nuanced depiction of Lou Arrendale was perfectly balanced between flatness and a sort of geeky excitement.


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    There is a moment towards the end when Lou asks his manager if the manager's brother is going to take the treatment for autism and the manager's response reveals a great deal about him and his brother in few words.


    Any additional comments?

    This is not a book about action or adventure, but about people and situations.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristin 10-24-13
    Kristin 10-24-13
    HELPFUL VOTES
    1
    ratings
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    10
    6
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    "Fascinating Viewpoint"
    Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

    This book is different from most of Elizabeth Moon's other books, but just as enjoyable. The viewpoint is unique and really interesting.


    What does Jay Snyder bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The reader does a great job also--I liked this audio rendition even better than the print book. He captured the struggle of the main character in dealing with the rest of the world very well.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kristen Giles Boulder, CO, USA 02-03-13
    Kristen Giles Boulder, CO, USA 02-03-13 Member Since 2011

    Kea Giles (Asmus)

    HELPFUL VOTES
    3
    ratings
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    10
    4
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    "Fantastic, especially with storyline around autism"

    Well read by Jay Snyder, this book takes the reader into the mind and life of an autistic man in the near future. If you know someone who is autistic, or who has Asperger's syndrome, you'll feel at home with the character and get some good insight into how your friend, husband, son, or daughter might think. I especially liked the part about comparing an autistic person's facial recognition and other types of perception to that of a blind person. Also, good insight into how other people treat folks who think differently, who act differently.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Wende J. Sharrock 12-27-12

    MBaggins of Blue Star Mage.com

    HELPFUL VOTES
    6
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    "Need a lot more more stars for this one"

    This very thoughtful book is not for folks looking for blowing up - there is only one almost blowing up. Nor is it for folks looking for steamy sex scenes.
    This is a great book for us rocking chair philosophers, and for those looking for new amazing "here's the problem now, what if in the future . . . " science fiction.
    It is a crucial book for looking at relationships. And of identifying the issues of how to read emotions. I was mesmerized by the careful, fearful, gentle thinking of the main character. So much of what he noticed in this chaotic world are things I have also noticed and thought about.
    I have always liked this author.
    This book took some fine research, The subject has been so hidden from us because of prejudice and fear of the unusual. She did such a clean and thought provoking job.
    I really love it.
    And Jay Snyder was perfect. The reading was often tough to clearly show who is speaking, and to signify the dichotomy of the characters: balancing what some perceive as problems of relating and speaking with the often brilliant abilities that they also exhibited. He did it beautifully. I was so impressed.

    This is one I am keeping to re-read several more times.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Carey 11-27-12
    Carey 11-27-12 Member Since 2010
    HELPFUL VOTES
    2
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
    3
    FOLLOWERS
    FOLLOWING
    0
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    "Tedious"
    Have you listened to any of Jay Snyder’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    The reader was competent, keeping my interest in what would have otherwise been a tiresome read.


    If this book were a movie would you go see it?

    No.


    Any additional comments?

    If nothing else, this brings home the varied tastes of audible listeners. I thought the characters were two dimensional, without any depth or warmth. The protagonist's life, far from being a glimpse into a different type of mind, was tedious. I found myself not caring what happened to him. Generally, the motivation for character behavior was unclear and the storyline (especially that pertaining to forced medical treatment of employees) unbelievable. I like the idea but believe a short story might have been a better vehicle.

    I can generally muddle through any production but I kept wanting to quit this one. But for the reader, I would have.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Beth Alvin, TX, United States 10-19-12
    Beth Alvin, TX, United States 10-19-12 Member Since 2011
    HELPFUL VOTES
    16
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    85
    9
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    "The best audio book I have yet experienced"

    I took a chance on this one and was so glad I did. I thought it would keep me entertained in the car, but ended up listening to it whenever I had a free moment. And thinking about it the rest of the time! The story draws you in, emotionally as well as intellectually. And there is scifi, but the "sci" part is along biological lines. I would recommend it to any one.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
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