Alan Marchant's Reviews > The Speed of Dark

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
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's review
Jun 04, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: fiction, sci-fi

The Speed of Dark is a first-person exploration of the inner world of a (very) high-functioning autistic man, Lou. The outer world intrudes from time to time as a device to trigger Lou's interesting perceptions and reflections and prompt slow but satisfying adaptation. The external characters are thin, but this is appropriate since Lou must struggle so hard to understand other people.

The author has clearly done her homework about autism. But I doubt that she is correct in presenting the autistic experience as overwhelmed by existential reflection as much as by sensory overload.

The story ends weakly with a brief sci-fi adventure that Moon must have had in mind from the beginning. But the ending requires Lou to make a totally incomprehensible decision to give up on himself. A realistic ending (tragic, ambiguous, violent, anything) would have made the book much more novelistic and satisfying.

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