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The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang

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“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” is a 2013 science fiction short story by Ted Chiang. It is about a device which helps people find recordings from any moment of their life – and the profound impact that has upon society in general and one man specifically.

It has been a couple of years since I read a story by Ted Chiang – who is one of my favorite authors. When I saw this one appear a few weeks ago I immediately put it on my to-read list, and was quite certain that I would enjoy it. That feeling was strengthened when Tinkoo gave it a very positive review on his web site: Variety SF. Anyway, I downloaded it and spent a morning commute soaking it in – and I wasn’t disappointed at all! Every once in a while a short story comes along that really grabs you, and forces you to think about things you never considered before. This is one of those stories. Give it a read – you won’t be sorry!

Non-Spoiler Summary

wearable time lapse recorder by k0a1a.net, CC 2.0 license

The narrator of this story introduces us to an amazing new product, Remem, which is basically a powerful,fast and personal search engine that allows people to instantly view scenes from any moment of their life. Well, our skeptical protagonist is a writer so what does he do? He begins doing research for an article about Remem – that’s what. During his investigations he talks to many people who have been both negatively and positively influenced by the device, and he finally decides to give it a try. That is when he discovers its amazing ability to change a person’s deeply held convictions about how past events really played out. Interspersed within the narrative is a similar but older story about another problem of historical perspective – but this time told from the point of view of a mid twentieth century African boy.

My Two Cents

  • Story: 5 stars – Wow – what a great idea for a story! The Remem device may not be all that unique in science fiction, but how this story is told and the thoughtful reflection of the Remem’s consequences sure is something special.
  • Writing: 5 stars – I really enjoy Ted Chiang’s style, so of course I like the writing in this story. I really liked how he interwove 3 stories here: the Remem, his relationship with his daughter and the Tiv. Well done!
  • Fun Factor: 5 stars – I’m a sucker for stories that force the reader to do some deep thinking – which this one was very guilty of! It was a story that I just couldn’t put down, and I actually gave up my “commute time nap” just to finish it!

Where To Find The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling

  • This story first appeared in the Fall 2013 edition of Subterranean Press Magazine.
  • You can still read “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” online for free at the Subterranean Press web site.

Craving More SF Stories Like This One?

If you enjoyed "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling" then be sure to check out one of my all-time favorite stories: Story of Your Life by Ted Chiang – about a linguist who tries to unravel a difficult alien language, and how that affects her relationship with her daughter.