Monday, 13 April 2009

If there was a cure, would I...?

The Speed of Dark by Elizabeth Moon is another one on my favourite books list. I have written
this review for one of other websites I joined. The book is placed in a futuristic world. It left me
with very strange question. If there was a cure, would I put my daughter through it? Would
she stay the same and if not would this be a change for better?

For those who are here for the first time. Please remember I am pondering over the mild case of high functioning autistic. In the case of severe autism I would not hesitate.

The Speed of Dark is narrated mainly by its autistic hero, Lou Arrendale. Written with the honesty and passion the book is another example of Moon's gift for characteristics.

Lou is 35 and his life is perfectly organized. Thanks to his gift for pattern analysis he works for a pharmaceutical company together with his "normal" and autistic co-workers, he practices fencing, makes friends. He follows the rule hammered into his head for years: "Act normal, and you will be normal enough."

His peace, however, is shattered after his "normal" friend's violent outburst and an unexpected announcement of his new boss. The management gave all autistic staff an ultimatum: undergo the new experimental treatment to cure autism or lose the job. The treatment will alter the subject's brain, wipe out everything what made them - personality, memory, knowledge - tabula nasa.
That is when Lou's exploration of free will, identity, health and illness, good and evil begins. He looks for answers. Who will he become? Will there be a slight memory of Lou Arrendale left when he wakes up? Is it really better to be "normal"? What is the speed of dark? If he chooses to undergo the treatment he will have to catch the darkness. Lou throws himself into studies of neurology in order to find the pattern which would help him understand his dilemma. Like many little boys, he wanted to become an astronaught and because Lou was autistic this dream could not come true. If he becomes "normal" will he be able to follow that path and make his dream come true?
His philosophical quest for self is captivating in his obsession with the speed of dark. Lou finally makes his decision - "When I get there, the speed of light and the speed of dark will be the same".

Elizabeth Moon has presented us with a very believable character and psyche of an autistic. You will not find many so insightful novels written by a "normal". Her book is a gift to all of us; a chance to understand the unknown; appreciate the different, and question. "Not knowing arrives before knowing" says Lou; such a simple truth but how much courage does it take to make this step and find out...

I have put down this book with many questions still gnawing at me and I hope those who will read it now, will see why. Most compelling and eye opening piece of great literature.


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  2. Is "fascinating" the right word?!
    That reminds me of that movie The Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless mind. Even though it has nothing with autism (hmm..well now that I said it, I'm not quite sure?!) but anyway..How dare they to even suggest TO ERASE somebody?! Who decides what is "normal" in the first place?!

    Btw. I have something for you on my blog;)

  3. Yey! It's here!!! Thank you AlPha!!! I love it - I do love a child with autism!!! (Jumping up and down)

  4. have another one I just posted..I'm gonna put it on my blog:)

  5. Libertine...this book is one I have not read...but will add it to my list of books that I would like to read (whenever I am able to find

    I think I am agree with AlpHa, who are they to decide what is normal? And with the new research that has come to light about the genes not being broken in autistics but rather just in a shut off mode...I think if there is going to be a "cure" it will be finding a way to get those genes back into the ON position.
    You can read about that study on my other site here:
    (I don't keep that as updated as I should...just finding the time is my biggest challenge)

  6. Oh nooooooo!!!! We have no right to decide. We are all unique because of who we are .... does that make sense???
    I have seen severe autism before, but even then, they still have the right to be who they are.
    This is a tuff question.

  7. Good morning Libertine,

    I think the fallacy of mankind is the question of: Who decides what is normal?It is a conumdrum that those who are different must actually face. Whether we are talking about those with Autism or matters of race; the premise of what is normal doesn't change.


  8. Thanks for the comment and the "grandma" advice! XD

    I miss the old her, but the new her is an actual ****ing **n*wag.

  9. And you all came to the same conclusion as I did. With all the problems - she is who she is and I would miss her quirky self. But read the book if you have time it really is fantastic.

  10. Hi Libertine, I followed you over from your comment on Lou's blog :)

    I had the good fortune to meet Elizabeth Moon at a small book signing and informal Q&A when she was in Sydney a couple of years ago. She was great to talk to, we chatted a briefly about Speed of Dark and her son but I must admit I don't really remember what was said now!

    One of my nephews is autistic so I'm always looking to learn and understand more about autism.