The Speed of Dark

In the near future, disease will be a condition of the past. Most genetic defects will be removed at birth; the remaining during infancy. Lou Arrendale, a high-functioning autistic adult, is a member of the lost generation, born at the wrong time to reap the rewards of medical science. He lives a low-key, independent life. But then he is offered a chance to try a brand-new experimental “cure” for his condition. With this treatment Lou would think and act and be just like everyone else. But if he was suddenly free of autism, would he still be himself? Would he still love the same classical music—with its complications and resolutions? Would he still see the same colors and patterns in the world—shades and hues that others cannot see? Most important, would he still love Marjory, a woman who may never be able to reciprocate his feelings? Now Lou must decide if he should submit to a surgery that might completely change the way he views the world . . . and the very essence of who he is.

Tenth anniversary edition • With a new Introduction by the author


“Inevitably, THE SPEED OF DARK has been compared to Daniel Keyes’ classic and tragic Flowers for Algernon, in which a mentally disabled young man is medically enhanced to become a genius. THE SPEED OF DARK may be an even greater book […] it is [a] subtle, eerily nuanced character portrait of a man who is both unforgettable and unlike anyone else in fiction […] The end of THE SPEED OF DARK is not unexpected, but it is marvelous all the same, and exceptionally moving in its balance of loss and wonder [...] It is a measure of Elizabeth Moon’s genius that she enables a reader to thoroughly experience the world through Lou’s tangled but exhilarating neurology, and wonder what we “normal” people are missing when we don’t acknowledge our connection to those who seem so different from us. A lot of novels promise to change the way a reader sees the world; THE SPEED OF DARK actually does.”

The Washington Post

“This poignant work, which won the 2004 Nebula prize for respected science-fiction author Elizabeth Moon […] will leave a deep impression upon the reader. The pages will make you hold your breath until the very last line.”

Associated Press (France)

“For those of you who are a bit shy of hardcore SF, one of your best bets is Elizabeth Moon. She’s been writing great science fiction for years […] a highly sensitive treatment of the world of an autistic man set in the not too distant future […] For people with autism, the world can be a very scary place, and Moon documents poignantly their battle to interact with a world of shapes, sounds and feelings that are strangers to them.”

The Times of London

“A stunner. Not just for parents and friends of autistic individuals, not just for sf fans — THE SPEED OF DARK makes me remember why I love Moon for her ability to immerse me in the thought processes of a sympathetic, transparent protagonist.”

The AV Club

“A touching account. Well-written, intelligent, quite moving. Moon places the reader inside the world of an autistic and unflinchingly conveys the authenticity of his situation.”

Kirkus, Starred Review

“Not only is the title superb, but this novel proves to be both simple and moving, a rarity…”

Magazine Litteraire (France), Starred Review

“A powerful, thought-provoking story of soul searching that provides insight into outsiders.”

Library Journal, 12 Titles for Autism Awareness Month