Elizabeth Moon: The Speed of Dark
Some books have great plots. This one doesn't. It takes quite a while to get really going and even then it's not very exciting. For a while I was wondering why on earth did this book win the Nebula for best novel. Well, I did realize that in the end. This isn't a book with a great plot, but this is a book with interesting characters and thought-provoking material to chew on; thus, it certainly makes for a good science fiction book.
Actually, the publisher doesn't label the book as science fiction (Elizabeth Moon is very much a science fiction author, though). That's good, because the science fiction elements aren't that strong, just some highly advanced technology on the background. It would be unfortunate to have someone skip reading this book just because it's science fiction. After all, genre fans will read the book anyway, because of the author and the Nebula.
So anyway: The Speed of Dark is the story of Lou Arrendale, a high-functional autist who has managed to do pretty well in his life. He has an interesting job, doing pattern analysis which is what he does best. He has friends and hobbies and his life seems to be good in all ways. His autism does cause him some trouble adjusting, but he can live with that.
Of course, something comes up and throws him off balance. Two things, actually. His car is assaulted: someone slashes his tires. Then, a new boss at his workplace doesn't seem to like the autist department and wants to get rid of it - with some help from brand-new experimental medical technology that promises to cure autism altogether.
Things get messy, as you can guess. It comes down to a simple, yet very difficult question: Lou must decide whether he wants to stay as he is or submit to the operation that will change him. Is being normal worth the risk? Is being normal something worth pursuing? Are normal people normal? What is this normal thing everybody's talking about anyway?
It's a good book, and the way it's told from Lou's autistic perspective makes it quite an experience. Moon manages to avoid both romanticizing and demonizing autism. Perhaps she rubs in a tad too much the fact that normal people don't generally behave like the autists are told they should to behave to be normal, but I'm willing to forgive that. Speed of Dark certainly is full of material to make you think. [ Speed of Dark at Amazon.co.uk ] [ The Speed of Dark at LibraryThing ]