Book: The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon

A fine trip into the mind of autistic person

Elizabeth Moon
The Speed of Dark
Ballantine, 2003
ISBN: 0-345-44655-7
340 pages

The Speed of Dark is a novel, set in the near future, about Lou Arrendale, an autistic man who received enough sophisticated help as a child that he functions reasonably well in society. He lives alone, does fencing as a hobby, and works for a large company. His job appears to be a near-future version of computer programming, which his abilities are particularly suited to. The other people in his department do the same work and are also high-functioning autistics.

The book's plot is reasonably interesting, though not particularly exciting, and the ending is only satisfactory. But neither of those things is the point of the book. The point of the book is that it's told from Lou's point of view. It's quite a task to tell a story from the point of view of someone who doesn't think the way most people do, and Ms Moon has done an excellent job. How do we know for certain that Ms Moon has accurately captured the internal life of a high-functioning autistic? We don't of course. But Ms Moon has raised an autistic son who is now a teenager, so if anyone is likely to be able to be able to write accurately about it, I suspect that she is. And, for what it's worth, I found Ms Moon's description of the world from Lou's point of view compelling and persuasive.

Posted: Tue - April 27, 2004 at 09:50   Main   Category: