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vikyavorsk

Kris' Books.

Female. Slavic mind. Avid reader.

 I read across a broad range of book genres, with an emphasis on Aus/NZ lit, Russian and Ukrainian literature, Latin-American literature and European history.

 

The Speed of Dark - Elizabeth Moon A really impressive book, in my opinion. Although it is technically classified as science fiction, it does not especially regard technological advancements and other aspects expected of typical books of the genre. It is more of a character analysis and, partly, an analysis of the type of society set in this not so distant future, both in which Moon effectively evokes a convincing portrait of an autistic person using a first person narrative. I think that is quite notable because such deep character analysis is much easier to undertake from the writer's position using the third "eye of God" person narration, so it's not very surprising that many writers opt for the latter narration option. As a result such books as this one are gems to read.

Lou Arrendale is an autistic person, but, being born ahead of our time, he had the good fortune to receive special treatment during infancy that allowed him to be able to grow up to live independently, work, drive, be a competitive-level fencer and even tolerate the things that unreasonably annoy autists (e.g loud, noisy music). He seems almost rid of his autism, however there is a seemingly slight, yet actually massive, aspect of character he lacks in order to be able to qualify as a member of the society of 'normals'- the mentality of non-autistics. Although he has learned to say "things that make normal people feel comfortable", like please and thank you, he remains unable to decipher the behaviour and actions of many of the normal people he knows, and cannot think, speak or act like one, so he has great difficulty in operating in social situations. The dilemma of this book occurs when a new treatment, so new it hasn't been tested on humans yet, is pressured on Arrendale and his autistic colleagues by the company they work for. This treatment is supposed to reverse the effects of autism, leaving a totally normal mentality behind. Should Lou take the treatment or not? And why or why not?

The most interesting thing about the character analysis was that it made me not only realise what it felt like to have autism, but think about what it means to be suitably "normal". What are the benefits of becoming normal? As Lou correctly notices, normal people are all too often crooked as persons. Why do these benefits outweigh the risks of the treatment? All of Lou's weighty ponderings throughout this book help you think over this very interesting dilemma, along with superb storytelling for which I rate this book five stars.