Kirstie's Reviews > The Speed of Dark

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon
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really liked it
bookshelves: quality-characters-w-disabilities, science-fiction, near-future-sci-fi
Read 2 times. Last read May 22, 2018 to May 25, 2018.

In the near future almost anything can be cured with new technology, but when a 'cure' for autism becomes available what will Lou Arrendale, an autistic adult, do when his company starts trying to force him into testing this cure?

The portrayal of autistic people holds rather accurate to my knowledge(through my own child, friends, and research), and does so often quite lovingly and deeply. Moon also takes effort to show there is much more to Lou than just his autism, giving him friends, enemies, frenemies, and hobbies outside of his work and obsessions.

I liked that all the neurotypical people in the novel were diverse too. It wasn't blanket asshats or blanket nice people(as I've seen in some other fiction focusing on people on the spectrum). There were nice and helpful people like Danny the police officer, well-meaning but kind of jerky strangers who wouldn't shut the heck up, jerks, outright assholes, and people who were sometimes one, then sometimes the other depending on the situation. Even the moustache twirling boss, Crenshaw, trying to force his autistic employees into the treatment still had reasons to justify his goals.

Moon also makes a clear to kick in the teeth at that annoying myth that autistic people don't have feelings by showing Lou in love, happy, sad, stressed to the point of becoming temporarily non-verbal and not understanding what those around him are even saying, and when events force him to realise someone who he believes a friend might actually be an enemy who wishes him harm he struggles with the emotional tumult.

This sensitivity and familiarity is part of why the ending messed me up so much... and not in a good way.

I have deeply mixed feelings about the ending. (view spoiler)

Lou's decision about the treatment was slowly being given more reasons (in either direction) by friends, enemies, religion, and his own life experiences, which was nice, and (view spoiler).

I like there was a character who had a not so high-functioning sibling, to help highlight the spectrum a little more clearly since nearly all the prominent autistic characters were high-functioning. I loved seeing all these characters different autistic characters with their different habits such as rolling dice in their pockets, and their interactions and closer understanding of one another.

One thing I especially loved was how Lou would be faced with rules he'd been given for good behaviour, which he frequently found neurotypical people around him breaking, some because social conventions he wasn't aware of allowed them, and other times because they were rude people who he went on behaving nicely to.

Overall the first 5/6ths of this book are wonderful and fun, but the end... hmm, I just can't quite reconcile it entirely in my mind. I might go look for interviews with the author to see if she ever answered a question which explains what she was truly trying to say with the ending, because how it sounds in my mind is dissonant with the message of the entire rest of the book to me. I rated this book based on those first 5/6ths, with only the tiniest penalty for the final sixth because I may be misunderstanding something.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
July 25, 2017 – Shelved
July 25, 2017 – Shelved as: to-read
May 22, 2018 – Started Reading
May 25, 2018 – Finished Reading
May 27, 2018 – Shelved as: quality-characters-w-disabilities
May 27, 2018 – Shelved as: science-fiction
May 27, 2018 – Shelved as: near-future-sci-fi

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