“The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” by Ted Chiang (Subterranean, Fall 2013)
Now available for free, here! Thank you, Subterranean Press!
Some spoilery thoughts behind the link:
This novelette explores the way human cognition changes with the introduction of new technology, through two interwoven storylines. In the "past" storyline, we look at the way writing changed us. In the "future" storyline, we explore a new technology that allows us to video and audio record all of our experiences and use a very sophisticated search engine to find whatever we want in those recordings at the flick of a thought, effectively giving everyone photographic memory. Through both storylines, we also explore the difference between different kinds of truth - the truth of objective facts, and the truth of what is emotionally or societally right.
I liked this story a lot. The more I think about it, the more I love it. It's been days and I'm still thinking about it, to the point that I don't really want to pick up the next story yet. I'm still thinking about this one! I can't afford to take so much time to ponder one story when there is SO much to read before the voting deadline! But this is one of the things I really look for and value in sf - stories and concepts that give me a lot to think about.
I loved the back-and-forth progression of one person's experience with new technology, past and future. This was very well done.
I have given some thought before to the way our cognition changed when we became a literate society, and I'd love to learn more about this. I'm still mentally playing with the possibilities the imagined future technology could mean for us. I loved following the narrator's process of moving from fear of the new technology to realization of the good it can do. I want to keep going. I don't think this story is anywhere near the end of what this technology would mean for us.
Also, I REALLY want this technology. Let's go! Let's see where it takes us!!
The only thing that bothered me a little was that it read a bit odd. It almost felt like reading a "paid advertisement." In the end, it's clear, though, that it's meant to be almost that. It's a testimonial of a journalist and his journey from being very skeptical and fearful of the new technology to seeing the good it can do, and ultimately he sings its praises as the next big step in human evolution.
Seriously. Can I have this new technology? Now please! Kthx!
Up or down ballot (note for myself): UP, with slight reservations.