Lou is a highly functioning autistic man who has a job with a pharmaceutical company and drives his own car. The novel, The Speed of Dark, takes place in the future. Doctors are able to determine that an infant is autistic and reverse the autism while the child is still in the womb. Lou, however, was born before this was possible. His employers want him and his autistic co-workers to submit to a medical procedure that will make them “normal.” The problem is, the procedure has been tried on only non-humans so far.
Will this experimental procedure be successful or will it leave him to live as a vegetable? Lou wonders if his friends will still like him if he becomes normal. Will he feel the same way toward the woman he thinks he loves? Indeed, what does it feel like to be in love? Of course, Lou ponders other things. For example, if there is a speed of light, what is the speed of dark? This is where the title of the novel, a Nebula award winner, comes from. The author, Elizabeth Moon, is the mother of an autistic son and she has special insight into their thoughts and behavior. This makes her novel, which is told from Lou’s viewpoint, especially remarkable.