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The Speed of Dark Hardcover – Dec 2002


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; 1 edition (Dec. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345447557
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345447555
  • Product Dimensions: 16.3 x 3.1 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,564,030 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A fine novel ... Absolutely compelling (Greg Bear)

A must read! (Anne McCaffrey)

highly sensitive ... Moon documents poignantly their battle to interact with the world of shapes, sounds and feelings that are strangers to them (THE TIMES)

sympathetic and believable ...Moon's characters will stay with you for a long time (STARBURST) --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A near-future SF thriller that is both page-turning and thought-provoking. --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 31 people found the following review helpful By Paul Bolchover on 4 Dec. 2002
Format: Paperback
Lou is autistic. He, and a group of other autistics, work for a company, finding "patterns" in scientific formular. In return, they receive various perks, to make their life easier. But this is about to change: a new manager has decided that the Lou and his colleagues are too expensive, and wishes to force them to be guinea pigs of an experimental treatment to make them "normal".
But Lou doesn't wish to be normal - he has a job, a flat, a hobby, and is content with his life.
Elizabeth Moon is known for her fantasy and space opera work, loosely based on her experiences in the army. This novel marks her entry into a new genre - near-future thrillers. And what an entry - it's easiest her best work to date, and had me reading until the small hours.
Finding comparisons for this book are difficult - the best I can come up with are "The Business" by Iain Banks, and the film adaptation "Minority Report". It is a book that I intend to recommend to non-science-fiction fans, and has prompted me to write this, my first amazon review.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 25 Aug. 2005
Format: Paperback
1st of all I would like to join other reviewers in my confusion regarding the back cover, this is as much a Thriller as Lord of the Rings is a travel guide or Harry Potter is a love story. This is a book about an Autistic man trying to live his life in a near future setting where a "cure" for autism becomes available to him and how that impacts on his life.
I would also hesitate to compare this to 1984 or Handmaiden's Tale as whilst there is a side message regarding potential future horror its hardly a big part of this book and is actually dealt with reason and care by the authority figures in this book.
I am not autistic myself so can't judge directly on that, however I am disabled (not obviously) and quite severely dyslexic (which was picked up at school) and felt that the author really touched that alienated feeling that I have endured at different times in my life regarding my different problems and the difficulty's I had explaining my problems to "normals" and making them realise what my problems are and what I need to cope with them.
Lou the main character in the book is a real work of art (which would confuse him) I was able to feel for him and against him. I wanted to take him and shake him at various parts of the book to make him do things. All of the supporting cast are equally well written and just as sympathetic.
The plot in this book isn't really that important as its only used as a tool to develope Lou, and show us how he is changing. Yet it is still handled with a fair touch of flair and talent, it never feels forced and kept me happily turning pages one after another.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By ecclesarcher on 19 Jan. 2003
Format: Hardcover
For me, this marked a real change in Moon's writing. Not just in the obvious realm of subject matter - 'Speed of Dark' deals with issues far closer to home and 'reality' than either the Paksenarrion or Serrano series' - but also in the style and maturity of writing. Her phrasing and expression seem to me to be growing in power and clarity all the time.
As a story, this was excellent, with a highly likeable main character, a well-paced plot and a cast of thoroughly three-dimensional supporting characters.
I can't comment on the accuracy of the portrayal of autism, but to a non-expert it came across as realistic, well-researched and very compassionate. The issues the story raises regarding definition of self, medical experimentation and the right to be treated as a valid individual were interesting and carefully handled. My one quibble was with the ending; it was just a touch too 'happily ever after' for my taste (although, logically, with the plot structured as it is there probably wasn't another option). All in all, an excellent read - highly recommended.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 28 Nov. 2002
Format: Paperback
This is nothing like the space opera style of most of Elizabeth Moon's work, but don't let that put you off. This is a very compelling book. Lou is a fantastic character, and the 'voice' Moon uses to write him is perfect. The book jacket says that she spent a lot of time researching autism for this book. How well she did that, and how accurately she has interpreted it and extrapolated current medical and psychiatric thought only someone involved in the field could say, but what she presents seemed to hang together very well.
As Lou is finding out about things and asking questions specific to his view as an autistic person, I suddenly found myself wanting to think about my own approach to the same things.
The only reason that this book gets 4 stars insted of 5 is the very last few pages. I felt that part of the ending was a slight cop-out, but only a little, and not enough to spoil it.
Highly recommended. Anyone who has read and enjoyed 'Skallagrigg' by William Horwood should find this interesting.
Give this a go even if Elizabeth Moon's usual works are not your thing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Mrs. J. Proctor on 4 Oct. 2008
Format: Paperback
This is an extremely well-written, but slightly disconcerting book. The writer's research shows - by coincidence, I'd read an article in New Scientist on autism only a week before reading this and things were chiming all the way, especially with regard to coping with sensory overload.

Lou is an autistic. A high-functioning autistic who was helped by techniques developed while he was young. He's a genius at spotting patterns, whether they be in numeric data or in the moves of a fencing match. However, he has serious difficulty in understanding people. We slowly come to realise that he has been taught to mimic 'normal' behaviour. He knows what many of the rules are - when someone asks how you are, the correct answer is 'OK', but we realise that he doesn't know why this is the correct answer.

He's confused when asked multiple questions; which order is he supposed to answer them in? He's marked down on IQ tests because he sees connections between items that are not the ones most people would choose.

He's falling in love, but doesn't know what the rules are to ask a woman to dinner.

His life is all pattern, routine and repetition.

His life is pushed out of kilter when his new boss decides that he wants the autistics in his office to take a new (and unproven treatment) - and tells them they will lose their jobs if they refuse.

Lou learns a lot about himself while trying to decide whether to take the treatment, and we learn a lot about him.

Towards the end, I suddenly realised why the book is mostly written in the present tense. We do not know who Lou will be by the end of the book. It's unsettling (and deliberately so).

Anyone who has read 'Flowers for Algernon' will understand the feeling exactly.
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