Elizabeth Moon’s Speed of Dark was the second of the poll-topping best science fiction novels written by women in the last ten years that we’ll be discussing here at Torque Control over the course of this year. It was the only one of them published in 2002. Notably, where Bold as Love was written before 9/11, as Niall observed, Speed of Dark was finished after it, and reflects that in a scene in an airport, where security is not quite as we know it. Major airports now have separate access to the gates for arriving and departing passengers (much as international transfers have long had):
This is not the way it used to be. I don’t remember that, of course – I was born at the turn of the century – but my parents told me about being able to just walk right up to the gates to meet people arriving. Then after the 2001 disasters, only departing passengers could go to the gates. (41)
But that’s not what the book’s about, merely an observation of a way in which it is part of its time. Speed of Dark is set in our near future, when space exploration and brain manipulation are both somewhat more advanced than they are in our world. It’s about Lou and his distinctive, wonderful, evocative voice which positions the reader so clearly in his head. It’s the clarity and accomplishment of that voice which meant the ending disappointing me: Moon doesn’t give her readers a chance to get to know the revised version of Lou, and so I didn’t feel the ending was earned. I liked and admired the journey; I stumbled on the destination.
Niall hosted this month’s discussion, exploring Lou’s voice, the arguably brittle construction of the book’s antagonists, and the ways in which Moon resolves the book’s major narratives. That last post in particular resulted in a number of thought-provoking comments as to why the ending does or does not work for some people.
My thanks to Niall for hosting the discussion, and to all the commenters who joined in reading (or re-reading) the book.
Niall’s Discussion: Part I, Part II, and Part III
Discussion and reviews from December, when Speed of Dark
David Hebblethwaite’s Review
Alex Ward’s Review
Kilroy bounced off of it
Speed of Dark was a March Group Reads suggestion on GoodReads