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The Best of Subterranean

4.22  ·  Rating details ·  863 ratings  ·  161 reviews
From its launch in 2005 to its final issue in 2014, Subterranean magazine published stories by the leading lights of science fiction and fantasy literature. From Hugo and Nebula winners to Pulitzer and Booker Prize finalists to New York Times bestsellers, this anthology collects 30 pieces of Subterranean’s best, representing diverse, breathtaking short fiction from today’s ...more
Hardcover, 747 pages
Published June 29th 2017 by Subterranean Press
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This was a thought-provoking short story. It is categorized as science-fiction, but really just in the sense that one thread of the story plants the reader at a point in the future. A future where technology has become so pervasive that perhaps you don't need to learn or remember much of anything at all. Sound a bit frightening and perhaps not too far off-track?! This is most definitely a relevant topic in our digital age. A separate narrative takes the reader to a point in the not-too-distant p ...more
Evelina | AvalinahsBooks
Nov 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Evelina | AvalinahsBooks by: people who are interested in psychology, the human condition or just pondering the complicated things that we make ourselves into
Truthful. Shocking. Philosophical. Did not expect it. I was actually quite skeptical about it up to The Twist (more than a half the story in). And then it just shocked me.

This short story will make you think about your own life and try to remember your own mistakes. Because it can all apply to you too. Nobody's exempt from this. And you never think about it. You don't even know what you might be hiding from yourself. Humans are very interesting, the way their personalities function. Is there ult
Nov 26, 2016 rated it really liked it
I used to think my memory was reliable. Then I tried to apologize to my younger brother for an act that had bothered me for decades. It probably wasn't actually the worst thing I ever did to him, and I was young enough that it should have been forgivable but still it had nagged at me. I would have been 6 or 7 and he was two years younger. In my memory, I broke the living room window. I convinced him to take the blame, because at his age he wouldn't get in any trouble. I was right; he did
Jun 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017reads
It's short, simple and enjoyable story. I saw a comment that this reminds a tv series called "black mirror" and i completely agree with it. It's about all these new technologies contoling and taking over everyone's decisions in their hands. So when you think about it, it's truly marvelous and scary at the same time.

and you can read it online :
Review of Ted Chiang's story, The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling.
(Review was reassigned by GR librarians re categorising the story.)

When you learn to read you will be born again...and you will never be quite so alone again.
Rumer Godden

Two stories, separated by centuries and continents, explore the ramifications of becoming literate versus the consequences of being deskilled by technology, for individuals and societies.

In the near future thread, most people have outsourced much of their m
Edit 27.12: Just noticed that GR merged the reviews between Chiang' short story, rated 5 and this collection, which I rated 3. But now, because of the merge, the collection has 5 stars rating instead of 3, which I will correct now, of course.

GR people, don't mess with our rating! If you must choose between ratings, choose the one for the collection, not for the short one, because this is your idea anyway, not ours! Therefore, keep it straight!


A brilliant story about truth, weaved from two
Jan 17, 2018 rated it really liked it
Got to mull this to follow.

Mull it, I did, and I've written reviews for 800 page novels that were easier than this. This story is complicated, it is a tad frightening, and it is remarkably relevant. If you have ever wondered where technology is going and think it has become too invasive, you will find here your worst fears realized. What is remarkable is that you will, at the same time, get a different view of how useful or harmful this invasion can be.

It is a short story. I won't
Tudor Vlad
Jan 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Very similar to Black Mirror's "The Entire History of You", it uses the same concept of having a piece of technology implanted that records all your life, making it extremely easy to have access to every memory, unaltered. Ted Chiang takes a similar idea but what makes out of it is completely different, offering another view of how such technology would affect individuals.

Superbe writing and fascinating, thought provoking subject(s), masterfully rendered through an alternance between two plans and stories, which are somehow related, even if not directly connected.
I have NEVER raised the question of someone not knowing what a word is or how I could explain such a concept to someone - I always considered it an intrinsic concept.. The same with the fine line between righteousness and truth, or the one between a 'reliable' remembrance and the truth..

This just became
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Full review at my blog.
Best stories in this anthology:

★★★★★ • A Small Price to Pay for Birdsong • 2011 • Alternate World novella by K. J. Parker about the creative genius of two musicians • review
★★★★★ • The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling • 2013 • Near Future SF novelette by Ted Chiang about a perfect memory recording gadget • review

Worst stories:

 • The Secret History of the Lost Colony • 2008 • SF short story by John Scalzi
 • He Who Grew Up Reading Sherlock Holmes • 201
4.5 stars. I think this was my favorite of all of the Hugo Award nominated stories of 2014 because it surprised me, and made me reconsider my preconceived ideas on the subject. As a person with moderate memory trouble I've already put a small amount of thought into this topic. Like some of the people in the story, I was stuck seeing things as I expected to, which is exactly what Chiang expected.

I also thought it was so simply effective because it took just that one element, the memory search an
Nov 25, 2016 rated it really liked it
A fascinating look at human narrative told from the point of view of the future - and the past. The primary narrator is living in some unspecified future time and is examining fcurrent technology that allows everyone to keep a "lifelog"-a vlog that covers their entire lives, soon to start in infancy. A new technology has been developed-Remem-that allows people to search through their memories to verify what is true from what has been misremembered. The narrator discusses a poignant example vis a ...more
Gorab Jain
Jan 14, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories, z2019
Reading this author is always fun - lots of food for thought.
In this short story, the idea is around "Remem" - a camera embedded in your retina which creates a video log of your life. The comparison is done against a primeval society where writing (recording speech via symbols) came in as a new idea.
There is another layer of father-daughter relationship and how these technical advancements interfere with your emotional self and eventually your relations with each other.

So many ideas stuffed in a
Jul 26, 2017 rated it liked it
I couldn't finish this behemoth of an anthology. I was about 60% finished when I realized that every time I started a story, I'd become annoyed and antsy. Subterranean Press puts out some good stuff, but I only found a handful of stories that I really liked. I'd like to think that the last few stories ended with a bang, but my patience didn't last that long. 2 1/2 stars, rounded up to 3. My thanks to Netgalley and the publishers.
Nov 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This is a behemoth of an anthology. Utterly intimidating in its size. I never read Subterranean Magazine during its 9 years of publication, wasn't even aware of it until now (though I did know about Subterranean Press), so no idea how large those quarterlies were or how good they were, so no idea how selective Subterranean long time editor Schafer was when putting this collection together (maybe it's just all the stories previously published combined), but best seems like an appropriate title, b ...more
Jul 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Tiv tribesmen, fathers with selective memories
This novelette was right up my alley - I have a great interest in the idea of writing and how it actually affects the mind, and Chiang does this here by juxtaposing two unconnected stories. The first is about a new technology, "Remem," a sort of futuristic cloud app that will allow everyone to call up memories of everything they have ever experienced, at any time. The author explores how this will affect people's entire life experiences when their memories are now subject to constant auditing, i ...more
Nikki "The Crazie Betty" V.
2.5 Stars

As with most anthologies, this one was a mixed bag. Out of 30 stories collected for this anthology, there were only 8 that really stuck with me. And considering this one ranked in at over 700 pages, that's not very hopeful.

The Last Log of the Lachrimosa by Alastair Reynolds - This is truly classic sci-fi, where our ‘merry band of rebels’ wreck on an unknown planet that contains some very old, and very dangerous, secrets. I especially loved the switch in time-lines from the crew’s crashi
Nancy Meservier
With The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling, Ted Chiang has hit one of my thematic sweet spots by writing a story about memory. The novelette is divided into two storylines. One tells about a reporter encountering, with much trepidation, a new type of technology that will basically replace out natural human memory. The second tells a historical account of a young man living in Tivland, encountering the written word for the first time. These two elements may sound different, but they're actually ...more
Bogi Takács
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it
Edited to add: Goodreads seems to have deleted the original location of this review because I haven't even read The Best of Subterranean. I wish they at least warned us with mergers like this.


Conceptually interesting, but not as novel as most of his previous work. Maybe because the plot is about lifelogs and I'm of the generation who has chatlogs stretching back over a decade, so what he describes as the future is actually quite similar to the present as far as I'm concerned, just with more b
Chanel Earl
Sep 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Chanel by: Jeff Stockett
Shelves: short-stories
Interesting, I loved the premise of this story and the way the two narratives were reflected in each other.

When I first rated this (4 stars) I did so because there were some things bout the structure that I didn't like, but now the story has been percolating in my brain for six months and I realize it certainly deserves five stars. I have come back to it over and over again. I love what it means and how it gets to that meaning. I love how it has made me second guess my own memory and how
May 15, 2017 rated it really liked it
The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling by Ted Chiang

Not read as part of this anthology. Another story that got merged by Goodreads librarians.
Kara Babcock
I actually read this back when Subterranean Press first published it online. I almost didn’t re-read it when I found it in the Hugo Voters Packet … but then I decided that I wanted to write a review of it, and I wanted to refresh my memory. I’m glad I did this, because “The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling” is even better than I remember. (I am aware of the irony of this statement given the story’s subject matter.)

The subjectivity of human memory is a subject open to endless interesting specu
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: short-stories
Hugo novelette nominee. I have one more to read in this category but it will have to be very good to knock this book out of the top spot.

Not a story as such, it is written as an academic paper switching between the current time period and the 1940's when Tivland was discovered by the Europeans.

In the current time frame the author discusses the implications of a new type of software, Remem which is basically an advanced search engine for use in retrieving information from personal lifelogs. Lifel
Dec 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
"We don't normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology"

Plot 1:
Have you noticed when a child in your family is suffering from an issue, all what will occupy your mind is how to help that child! If you are a caring person you will do whatever it takes to find the solution.
In this short story; Nicole has a problem with spelling, but she can read the words so the father removes all kind of software’s and unnecessary materials and provides her a keyboard.
Plot 2:
Think before you talk.
Jeff Stockett
This story was sooooo good!

I'm very interested in the lifelogging movement. I follow it in blogs. I follow the various technology companies. I even own some lifelogging devices. The devices that exist today are nothing compared to the Remem device depicted in this story, but that's what makes it science fiction.

As a person who spends countless hours tagging photos and videos to make them searchable, the technology described in this book made me very excited. But, of course, as technology always
Sean O'Hara
Jun 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is definitely the story I'm putting at the top of my Hugo ballot. Both in terms of writing and having something to say, it blows away everything else nominated. The Voxxy and Torgesen stories seem like something a toddler scribbled on the wall by comparison.
Richard Wu
Apr 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
The Entire History of You aired in December 2011, preceding Chiang's short story by nearly two years. I won't trace the genealogy of the "perfect memory recorder" idea because I'm fairly confident it's more ancient than Jesse Armstrong's script, but I will say Chiang's rendition adds little to the televisual version, altogether more appropriate, I would argue, for the material at hand, for reasons so obvious they should require no argument. What I will say is that successful science fiction (a) ...more
Nov 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: sci-fi
Ted Chiang's vision of the future is so realistic and filled with technical details you can almost feel as if you're living it in the first story which is like a documentary or editorial. His grasp of a backwards community that hasn't invented writing is also enjoyable and entirely human in the historic fiction of the second story. The book alternates between the two, adding more and more to the story and the characters, explaining how things work and how everything affects people. An underlying ...more
Faiza Sattar
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2017
★★★★☆ (4/5)

Ah Ted Chiang! The yarns you weave.

Favourite passages

* When a man speaks, we make marks on the paper. When another man looks at the paper later, he sees the marks and knows what sounds the first man made. In that way the second man can hear what the first man said.

* You could not find the places where words began and ended by listening. The sounds a person made while speaking were as smooth and unbroken as the hide of a goat’s leg, but the words were like the bones underneath the mea
Jun 12, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: sciene-fiction
This novelette threw me off at first because it reads like an essay--which is essentially what it is, but it's merely another way to tell the PoV character's story. Technology has made perfect memory available to every human being via a product called Remem that not only records one's life, but you can instantly search for events and replay them. Had an argument with your wife and she swears you're wrong? Simply run a search and find out. In parallel, Chiang tells the story of Jijingi, a young m ...more
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32 likes · 16 comments
“People are made of stories. Our memories are not the impartial accumulation of every second we’ve lived; they’re the narrative that we assembled out of selected moments.” 39 likes
“We don’t normally think of it as such, but writing is a technology, which means that a literate person is someone whose thought processes are technologically mediated. We became cognitive cyborgs as soon as we became fluent readers, and the consequences of that were profound.” 9 likes
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