The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon – sci-fi

The Speed of Dark is a novel set in the near future, where most diseases and genetic easily fixed at birth. A few members of society, who were too old to receive the treatments, live life outside the realm of normalcy. Some of these people have autism, but are high functioning and capable members of society. When new research emerges that can make those with autism “normal”, Lou must decide if he wants to try the new therapy.

Lou is a very relatable. Growing up, he has been taught to adhere to certain societal “norms”, just like the rest of us. The only difference is that some people defy conventional norms, whereas Lou takes to heart his teachings. This allows him to function in a society he would have otherwise been unfamiliar with processing. Lou is able to work and have hobbies, like fencing.

Lou is very smart, despite his social inadequacies. What I liked most about this book was that Lou seemed to act the most “normal” or conventionally appropriate. He was taught to act a certain way and he does, while others don’t really conform to ALL social norms. For example, Lou feels that when he is late to work a certain amount of time, he must make up the exact amount he we late. We all know no one really does this in the real world! Because Lou is so engrained on how to be normal, he feels pressure to do everything perfectly.

I wish society didn’t tell people what they could or couldn’t do. Lou wanted to study the stars and he was smart enough to do it, yet he was told he couldn’t because of his disability. Due to his autism, he takes everything said quite literally, whereas someone else might try to defy this advice. It was hard to see how some people treated him.

I liked it best when Lou was among the other autistics. They all had unique personalities and perspectives on what it was like to be normal. Personally, I didn’t think there was anything really wrong with them; they could all function pretty well, maybe even moreso than some normal people. Everyone has their quirks, and they did too, but did it really mean they needed to be fixed?

I was sad when Lou made his decision regarding the therapy. I won’t spoil the decision, but it does change his life forever.