Second place goes to K-Man for:
And taking the first place crown is JES with his winning caption:
DougIndy and K-Man win bragging rights! JES wins…er…something else. I haven’t decided quite what yet. But drop the Baron an email (BaronDestructo@yahoo.com) and you can discuss.
I’d like to finish off with some discussion of this month’s book of the month club selection: The Speed of Dark. And a gentle reminder to post your questions for author Elizabeth Moon before week’s end.
Sylvia writes: “Not far into the book, I began to feel anxious for Lou…waiting for the shoe, the other shoe, etc., to drop because we know how mean, cruel people are/can be. And, the “child like” innocence and trust seemed quite vulnerable. “
Answer: What I found particularly interesting was the fact that, despite his skills in pattern recognition, Lou was unable to figure out who was behind the acts of vandalism directed against him. Rather, he works it all out in his head and yet refuses to accept the logical conclusion because allows his emotions and sense of right and wrong to overrule the obvious answer.
Sylvia also writes: “The ending was good, but it did not feel exactly right. Perhaps my overly critical view of the people performing the experimental procedure biased me. So, now, we see where the procedure worked and apparently worked well.”
Answer: I think that the ending will be the point of contention for many. Does Lou achieve his goal and is it a victory or does he abandon who he was and is it really, in some sense, a defeat for the character and all he represents?
Shelly writes: “The characters were noble, to me, as they struggled with the sudden possibility of being like the majority of people and there is no one right decision to make.”
Answer: That’s what I loved about this book. It presents a complex issue but doesn’t offer up any easy answers, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions. Whether the decision (in the grander sense) was the right one or the wrong one is up for debate – EXCEPT in the case of one of the project’s participants who is referred to only in briefly passing at book’s end: “Bailey, in particular, made a juicy tidbit for the media. I didn’t know how badly it went for im until I saw the news archives; they never let us see him.” I wonder what did happen to Bailey? Did he remain in an arrested childlike state? Or were the effects even worse? He’s the only one who rolled the dice and you could say with certainty lost out.
Charlie’s Angel writes: “The Speed of Dark is one of my favorite books.”
Answer: Had you read it before? Did you read it again for this discussion? If so, what did you think of it on second reading?
Thornyrose writes: “The same point of view strengthens our commitment to Lou as we can recognise how badly treated he is by certain characters in the story, from Dr. Fornum, to Crenshaw, all the way to Dr. Ransome, all of whom fail to recognise, or even acknowledge, Lou’s place in humanity.”
Answer: That’s a terrific point. None of the aforementioned saw Lou as a person. He was merely the means to an end for all of them. I wonder whether a non-autistic person was in the same position would have received the same treatment. Quite possibly yes in most cases, but I think they would have received a certain amount of respect that wasn’t afforded Lou. These individuals didn’t little to hide their disdain and ulterior motives in front of Lou – which is ironic since Lou was in a better position than most people to pick up on this.
Thornyrose also writes: “There’s even the question of Don’s punishment for his crimes? Is it justice, or even mercy, to “adjust” a person’s mind?”
Answer: Yes, that was interesting, the parallel between the mind reformating that Don undergoes for his crime and the similar treatment Lou must undergo to become “normal”. It’s interesting to note how, despite the fact that no one else had a problem with Don’s treatment and even argued for it, Lou was quite adamant in his belief that altering someone’s brain was wrong regardless of the desired outcome. So it came as a shock when he ultimately decided to go ahead and have the procedure done.
Ponytail writes: “His only issues where sometimes having trouble communicating and handling emotions. Don’t we all?”
Answer: No argument here. I reader some reader reviews after I finished the book and was surprised by how many people strongly related with Lou – to the point that some of them wondered whether they were “slightly autistic”.
Ponytail writes: “The new Lou seemed to be just seeing the surface – like “normal” people tend to do. Like “normal” people did with him.”
Answer: Yes, which is why I, personally, found the ending more tragic than hopeful.
Iamza writes: “It struck me as kind of ironic that the first thing Lou does after his treatment is sign up to be an astronaut, and travel to the stars, far away from all the normal people just like him. Is that what normal means?”
Answer: Interesting. I never thought about it that way. It’s ironic that he seemed warmer and more empathetic when he was autistic (given that many people with autism are considered remote and socially isolated) but seemed to embrace a solitary existence as a “normal”.
Iamza also writes: “I am somewhat torn on the notion of developing drugs and/or computer chips to regulate behaviour. I thought it was an interesting idea to raise: what if we could condition abnormal behaviour — make everyone normal, productive members of society. On the one hand, you would be able to get rid of anti-social behaviour like that of Don. On the other, who gets to decide what it means to be normal?”
Answer: The truth is this is a debate we should be having now at a time when drugs that alter brain chemistry are being prescribed to deal with everything from depression to attention deficit disorder. I’m sure that they help in many cases, but what are some of the undiscussed drawbacks?
Light writes: “I agree with your review of the book, it was great. I have read elsewhere that it was the publishers that classified it as a scifi book, which may explain why it is under that, even though as pointed out above, it is more marginally a scifi.”
Answer: I’ve always found it interesting what tends to be classified and NOT classified as scifi. The Road, for instance, is, in my opinion, SF, but many (including, if I’m not mistaken, even the author himself) do not consier it SF. Compare this to Octavia E. Butler’s Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents which pretty much told the same story some 15 years earlier and IS classified as SF.
Silver_comet writes: “All the other characters were well drawn, too. The only exception is Marjory. The reader didn’t learn much about her and her real feelings, the reasons behind them. That’s a pity, because for Lou she had an important part in his life.”
Answer: I think she was written this way to place us fully in Lou’s perspective. Like him, we don’t know for certain whether she does or doesn’t like him in “that way”. Rather than be allowed into her mind and know for sure, we share in Lou’s anxiety and doubt.
Silver_comet also writes: “From Don’s point of view it’s so much easier to blame Lou for everything instead of himself. He was definitely a person who couldn’t take responsibility for his own actions. The question for me is, has anybody ever explained that to Don? Really, in a friendly way? Or did they just turn away and confirmed therefore his way of thinking?”
Answer: Hey, that’s a very interesting point. Did the others contribute to Don’s descent by not showing him the kidness and respect they showed Lou. Was there a double standard here? I mean, having dealt with my share of jerks, I totally sympathized with them. It’s hard to turn the other cheek or be understanding with an openly hostile individual. I guess I’m guilty of it myself.
Silver_comet also writes: “I don’t have problems to socialize. However, I’m a person who needs much time for herself. Definitely more than most other people. Since I was a kid I have been happy being left alone for hours. It hasn’t changed much since then. I still like daydreaming. To immerse myself into the world of books, films and forget my actual surroundings. Sometimes I’m just not in the mood for talking and/or company. Is that bad?”
Answer: We’re very similar in this respect. While I enjoy socializing, for the most part, when given the choice, I can’t be bothered and prefer to just stay at home with the dogs and just write or read.
Silver_comet writes: “It was different with Lou. The changes were forced, they happen suddenly and quite randomly – not because of events in his life. For example, maybe his feelings for Marjory would have changed anyway. Naturally. I just don’t feel comfortable with the way they have changed now.”
Answer: Agreed. In some ways, this book reminded me of Flowers for Algernon. But in reverse. The shock of losing someone so dear and so suddenly stays with you.
Chevron7 writes: “I must say that I loved Lou’s internal monologue. I actually found it very comforting. In fact I was REALLY annoyed when the author switched to Tom’s or Pete’s POV.”
Answer: I agree. While I realize it was necessary, I always found myself eager to return to Lou’s POV.
MikeB writes: “As one who has lived with Asbergers all my life, albeit undiagnosed for most of it, I read this story with great appreciation. It is a wonderful book.”Answer: Hey, Mike, were there certain aspects of the book that rang particularly true for you? Were there some that didn’t?
Answer: Like you, I found Lou’s voice so engaging, his character so compelling, that I took my time with this book, truly appreciated it. I have a feeling it’s one of those books I’ll be pulling out and rereading for some time to come.
Michelle also writes: “I missed Lou-before by the end, but I felt selfish for doing so. As beautiful a soul as he was before, he was not “happy” in my opinion. He was unsatisfied on many levels. And maybe that was partly because of what he’d been told all his life, but to the degree that life is about the people in our lives, he was missing so much. And I’m very glad he got to keep his genius.”
Answer: I had the exact same feelings at book’s end. Even though he seemed happy and fulfilled, I wished he’d never taken the treatment – and immediately felt guilty because I guess I was being selfish, missing the old Lou.
Nolalib writes: “Like Michelle said earlier, I felt selfish for missing Lou-before. “
Answer: Well, you’re not alone. One thing the book doesn’t cover that I was curious about was how his friends reacted – especially after their friendship drifted. Tom, Lucinda, and especially Marjory – did they feel selfish for regretting his decision to take the treatment?
Drldeboer writes: “Like Tom, at the end I found it very hard to accept that Lou didn’t value things about himself that I valued. “
Answer: I wonder whether new Lou would have liked old Lou, or appreciated some of the things that made him “him”.
Otros Ojos writes: “ Her jealousy of Marjory, with resulting statements and actions, culminates in her telling Lou that he needs to associate with “your own kind” — although Emmy, like many other people, doesn’t perceive the difference between her disorder and Lou’s. In this way, the author not only nudges readers about the tendency to lump together all disorders that are superficially similar; she also brings in another concept related to communities of people outside the majority…”
Answer: I also found this very interesting, how Moon contrasts the autistic community and the community of “normals”. On closer scrutiny, however, it’s surprising how many unsavory similarities exist between the two groups.