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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by…

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives (2009)

by David Eagleman

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Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
This is a suite of variations on the possibilities of different kinds of afterlives. Each of the forty tales is usually only about a couple of pages long, but each one is densely packed with mind-bending what-ifs. He imagines wildly different ways that an afterlife, if it existed, could be structured. Some are exquisitely sad, such as this first paragraph from 'Metamorphosis': "There are three deaths. The first is when the body ceases to function. The second is when the body is consigned to the grave. The third is that moment, sometime in the future, when your name is spoken for the last time." Others offer the possibility of a sublime eternity, in which the self is split into an infinite set of selves, as in a prism, which exist simultaneously, and interact, as multiple versions of the self at different ages, meeting together periodically at reunions.
This is one to re-read, in parts, randomly. Delightful. ( )
  TheBookJunky | Apr 22, 2016 |
Eagleman imagines God in various guises and forms. We see a large and mighty God for whom we are microscopic bacteria; the smitings and wrath we suffer are those wrought by whatever celestial antibiotics he's taken to rid himself of us. That idea is a little pause inducing. There are also tiny, tiny gods who have somehow made us into the towering majestic humans that we are. And now we wait for the post-human singularity. I've forgotten the other afterlives Eagleman posits, but this book is nonetheless Good Fun. ( )
  evamat72 | Mar 31, 2016 |
A fascinating and delightful little collection. Sometimes these tiny stories feel more like aphorisms than flash fiction, but given the conceit of the book--40 distinct, often contradictory ruminations on life, death, God, and the afterlife--it was a surprisingly fun and occasionally deeply thoughtful read. More Isaac-Asimov-meets-Italo-Calvino than Mitch-Albom-meets-The-New-Yorker, this little book was both delightful and provoking, and I will definitely keep it close to hand for occasional re-reading. ( )
  Snoek-Brown | Feb 7, 2016 |
Truly inventive speculations on what could happen on "the other side." Mostly, as one might expect, insightful reflections on just what is happening on "this side." Reminded me a little of Italo Calvino. I have a feeling some of these will stay with me for a long time, and I'll think, "Now where did I read that?..." (Pause for commercial break): Thanks to Goodreads, I'll then be able to look through my list and zero in on what my memory has lost. ( )
  bibleblaster | Jan 23, 2016 |
When you die, what you expected to be the end of the show turns out not to even be the end of the season. It's merely the end of an episode and not one of the better ones. You were so into playing your character you lost track of reality. Still, your show will probably be picked up for another year by the network, but you, the lead character, may get a better offer elsewhere if you were good. You're hoping for Heaven. You did get a voice mail from your agent but haven't called back yet. You plan to, but first this important message reviewing the book . . .

Some afterlives were a lot better than others. He should probably have edited it down to 30. Still, none of them are worth dying for. I much preferred Andy Weir's The Egg. Go read it now! ( )
  Gimley_Farb | Jul 6, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 59 (next | show all)
Eagleman will find Sum a hard act to follow.
added by Katya0133 | editNew Scientist, Liz Else (Jul 4, 2009)
This delightful, thought-provoking little collection belongs to that category of strange, unclassifiable books that will haunt the reader long after the last page has been turned.
The best stories in Sum remind us that it is natural to want to know our place in the scheme of things. The book is a scripture of sorts, but because each myth contradicts the last, it is not a dogmatic collection.
added by Katya0133 | editNature, Hoffmann Jascha (Apr 30, 2009)
Yet while Mr. Eagleman squeezes from his tales a trite message about life, his many passing observations -- especially those concerning time and space -- convey sharp insights about how we think about death.
added by Katya0133 | editWall Street Journal, Andrew Stark (Feb 13, 2009)
Eagleman’s engaging mixture of dark humor, witty quips, and unsettling observations about the human psyche should engage a readership extending from New Age buffs to amateur philosophers.
added by Katya0133 | editBooklist, Carl Hays (Feb 1, 2009)
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In the afterlife you relive all your experiences, but this time with the events reshuffled into a new order: all the moments that share a quality are grouped together.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307389936, Paperback)

At once funny, wistful and unsettling, Sum is a dazzling exploration of unexpected afterlives—each presented as a vignette that offers a stunning lens through which to see ourselves in the here and now.  In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been.  With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:23 -0400)

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"A clever little book by a neuroscientist translates lofty concepts of infinity and death into accessible human terms. What happens after we die? Eagleman wonders in each of these brief, evocative segments. Are we consigned to replay a lifetime's worth of accumulated acts, as he suggests in Sum, spending six days clipping your nails or six weeks waiting for a green light? Is heaven a bureaucracy, as in Reins, where God has lost control of the workload? Will we download our consciousnesses into a computer to live in a virtual world, as suggested in Great Expectations, where God exists after all and has gone through great trouble and expense to construct an afterlife for us? Or is God actually the size of a bacterium, battling good and evil on the battlefield of surface proteins, and thus unaware of humans, who are merely the nutritional substrate? Mostly, the author underscores in Will-'o-the-Wisp, humans desperately want to matter, and in afterlife search out the ripples left in our wake. Eagleman's turned out a well-executed and thought-provoking book" -- Publishers Weekly.… (more)

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3 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847674275, 1847674283, 1847678971

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