The Speed of Dark

Elizabeth Moon
The Speed of Dark Cover

The Speed of Dark


4 Stars

A solid read for me. Moon imagines a near-future where autism has been cured but there is a percentage of people that were born slightly too early to receive the genetic fix. The final autistic generation, if you will. A small group of them work at process analysis and pattern-recognition for a large corporate conglomerate. The bulk of the narrative is told in first-person via Lou Arrendale, one of the autistic employees of the company.

When Lou is speaking or contemplating, the story fires on all cylinders. I haven't decided yet if the lack of development of the supporting cast is perhaps an intentional attempt to show how those other characters are perceived via Lou's autistic viewpoint. If so, that only adds to the brilliance of the novel. If not, (and the more I ponder, the less I think it's fully intentional), there is not enough of it to detract very much from Lou's story. And this is Lou's story. From beginning to end, a more compelling protagonist is difficult to come by. The 'voice' that Moon employs as Lou describes his daily routines and how he perceives what people say and do is nearly pitch-perfect. There is gem after gem relating how an autistic person might view terms and speech that us 'normals' take for granted. But then, as the autistics mention once or twice, "Normal is a dryer setting".