2000 - 2007 Science Fiction

Speed of Dark – Elizabeth Moon

Speed of Dark

I love reading books that feature autistic characters and so ordered Speed of Dark the moment Judith mentioned that it was one of her favourite books set in the future.

Speed of Dark is set in the near future, at the moment they find a cure for autism. The book follows Lou, a man with autism, who works in a department specially set up to enable autistic people to maximise their ability to analyse data. The department provides trampolines, soothing music and other comforting objects that enable the group to work as efficiently as possible, but cutbacks are forcing the company to re-evaluate the amount of money they spend on these facilities and so, in an effort to reduce costs, they try to persuade their employees to undergo surgery to remove their autism. The book follows Lou and his colleagues as they decide whether or not to become “normal” citizens.

Speed of Dark reminded me of Flowers for Algernon in that the premise of the book is whether or not people are happier when they match the majority of the population, but whilst I found Speed of Dark interesting, it wasn’t in the same league as Flowers for Algernon.

Speed of Dark accurately captures the autistic mind, giving the reader a real sense of the difficulties they face. The problem is that it isn’t necessarily pleasurable to see the world through their eyes. There were times when I became bored by the excessive detail of some descriptions and I found the continual confusion over the simplest incidents repetitive and dull.

He did not say he was sorry I had four flat tires. That is the conventional thing to say, too bad or how awful, but although he is normal, he did not say either of those things. Maybe he is not sorry; maybe he has no sympathy to express. I had to learn to say conventional things even when I did not feel them, because it is a part of fitting in and learning to get along. Has anyone ever asked Mr Crenshaw to fit in, to get along?

The sad thing is that I know this is what they have to go through each day and so I feel guilty for admitting that I found simply reading 400+ pages about it too much. I think this book would have benefited from being 200 pages shorter, but perhaps that wouldn’t have given such a complete picture of their frustrations.

On a positive note, this book did raise some interesting questions and I loved the debate about whether or not we should remove autism from society. I am still thinking about what all this means for my own son, but whilst I’m not hoping that they find a cure for autism, I am hoping that employers come to realise the benefits of autistic staff and begin to provide the wonderful facilities mentioned in this book.

Recommended to anyone with an interest in autism, but everyone else should read Flowers for Algernon first.



June Summary and Plans for July

My June reading has been dominated by Titus Groan, the first book in The Gormenghast Trilogy. It has become one of my all-time favourite books and so I am looking forward to seeing what happens in the rest of the series.

I have also been reading Shantaram and can see that becoming a favourite too. Working through these chunksters means that I don’t have that much time for other books, but I’m not going to apologise – I love it and recommend that you try reading them too!

Book of the Month
Titus Groan (Gormenghast trilogy)





Books Reviewed in June

Titus Groan – Mervyn Peake 

Night Waking – Sarah Moss 

Pure – Andrew Miller 

Rendezvous – Esther Verhoef 

A Visit from the Goon Squad – Jennifer Egan 

Visitation – Jenny Erpenbeck 

The Possessed – Elif Batuman 

Plans for July

I am looking forward to the Booker long list announcement on 26th July. I’m currently trying to decide which books I think will be selected and I’ll reveal my prediction in a couple of weeks’ time.

Shantaram and the Gormenghast Read-along will continue to dominate my reading this month. The length of these books means that I am being drawn towards shorter, lighter books in the rest of my reading time. I’m going to be very busy looking after my new puppy and my two boys over the Summer holidays and so I’m not going to even think about what other books I might squeeze in this month – I’m just going to see what catches my eye!

Have a wonderful July!