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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.

Critic Reviews

Nebula Award, Best Novel, 2003
  • Favorite Audiobooks of 2010 (Fantasy Literature)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    235
  • 4 Stars
    180
  • 3 Stars
    95
  • 2 Stars
    29
  • 1 Stars
    25

Performance

  • 4.2 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    195
  • 4 Stars
    112
  • 3 Stars
    51
  • 2 Stars
    14
  • 1 Stars
    9

Story

  • 4.0 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    169
  • 4 Stars
    114
  • 3 Stars
    61
  • 2 Stars
    28
  • 1 Stars
    12
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  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • 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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

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. <br/><br/>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

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Tex
  • Alvin, TX, United States
  • 10-19-12

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

  • Overall
  • J
  • Stillwater, OK, United States
  • 06-04-09

Too padded

Premise of the story is good but this book is so padded with redundant and mostly worthless dialogue that I struggled to get through it. This could easily have been written with half the content. Basically just borish and little imagination around facts about autism.

7 of 14 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Richard
  • Carolina Beach, NC, United States
  • 05-05-09

Flawed but worth the download

Although I certainly am a rabid science fiction fan (among other genres) I'm not sure I knew this was classified as science fiction when I bought it. Although it takes place in some future where the understanding of brain chemistry and how to manipulate it is far advanced over today, this setting plays virtually no role in the story except to set up the protagonist's eventual decision to be "treated." This book is a character study of mildly mentally impaired man and although it may suffer, as other reviews have suggested, from a case of "over-doing it," it certainly gives the reader/listener a working knowledge of how a GROUP of such folks interacts with each other and the "normal" world.

What seems to be lacking, however, is PLOT. A lot of individual incidents happen to Lou and his compatriots, and we get to know probably a dozen characters very well, but the rest of the story seems a bit rushed. When I realized how little time was left in the book when Lou finally went in for the "cure", I knew that it was either going to end on the way into the operating room, or end entirely too quickly. The latter is certainly what happened; the part of the story after Lou's treatment was WAY too rushed. I wish another hour or two of more richly detailed plot had been inserted at this point.

All the above being said, however, my recommendation would be: if you like a really good character study, getting to know a person whose mind works a little differently from the average and learning that his personality is at least as rich and complex as any of the "normals," then buy this audiobook.


6 of 12 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Irritating to say the least.

If you can make it through the forth chapter, then this book is for you. Unfortunately, I don't have the patience. I kept hoping the book would stop irritating me and develop some kind of plot, but that was not to be the case. In desperation, I jumped to the last chapter of the first book only to find just another tedious list of of complaints of wrongs perceived or real by the main character.

The author has obviously put a lot of work and has insight on the autistic mind, but this book is for those that are interested in studying the social issues of autistic people. From the title or intro, I thought I was buying a Sci-FI book.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • John
  • Orange, CA, USA
  • 10-21-09

only vaguely Sci-Fi

Odd that this was a Nebula winner given that it has only the thinnest of sci-fi window dressing on it. Add to that the issue other reviewers have brought up about the padding and repetitive nature of the book. The whole story seems terribly contrived and forced.

1 of 4 people found this review helpful