In “The Truth of Fact,” Chiang examines the development of assistive-memory technologies, which make your memories of your life fully searchable — thanks to the pervasive use of “lifelogs” to record every minute of your existence. How will it change us as people, to be able to have instant perfect recall of every event from our lives, the moment we even start wondering about it? Will we be unable to construct memories organically? Will we be able to forgive each other for our mistakes, given that we can review the footage of them over and over?
Against the backdrop of a journalist exploring the new technology of “Remem,” Chiang also explores a mostly fictional account of a culture that relies on the oral tradition encountering European-style writing for the first time. How does the ability to write down words precisely change people? How does just the mere fact of reproducing the written word make us cyborgs?
Just when you think you know where Chiang is going with all this, he flips everything on its head, in a brilliant twist that makes you rethink the whole business. By the end of the story, you may just be rethinking how you remember your own life and your relationships, not to mention your relationship with technology.