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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by…

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives (original 2009; edition 2009)

by David Eagleman

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8605710,380 (4.06)86
Title:Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
Authors:David Eagleman
Info:Vintage (2009), Kindle Edition, 107 pages
Collections:Electronic Books, To read, Your library

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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman (2009)


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Showing 1-5 of 55 (next | show all)
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 |
This is an odd little book - it includes 40 tales about various after lives - such as you are stuck in an airport waiting room until no one remembers you (Sucks to be Shakespeare). Or the universe where there is no afterlife, where multi-celled creatures are just a transport for bacteria. There is even a universe where humans are just a construct in a computer, the afterlife is where you get asked questions about life.

Its an odd little book, each story says something about humanity. Some are better than others, but as a complete volume, very good. ( )
  TheDivineOomba | Feb 15, 2015 |
This is a remarkable little book, more inventive than anything I have read for a long, long time. David Eagleman has written 40 miniature suggestions of what the afterlife may contain. In the process he makes the reader think more about his life than his death and what possibly comes after death. Some of the stories are hilarious, most of them astoundingly clever. Most of his "theories" are mutually exclusive, because sometimes there's a god, sometimes two, sometimes none. Sometimes he or she is dead, other times humans have important jobs to do out in the universe and life is a holiday away from this work. I wish I had as many good ideas in a lifetime as Eagleman has in his 40 stories, The only weakness is in the edit; with 5-10 fewer stories this would have been an unbeatable masterpiece. ( )
  petterw | Jan 27, 2015 |
A diverting collection of imaginative explorations into the possible Afterlife. Most are brief and fleeting, and leave the reader with a tantalising glimpse of what could be. Some are simplistic representations of complex organisms breaking down, or of atomic compounds reforming into different incarnations or entities; others are jarring visualisations of dystopic existences that make the humdrum surroundings the reader may find themselves in gain a sudden appeal not noticed before! Several are actually quite uplifting and genuinely surprising. This is a pleasant and thoughtful read overall.

With an impressive array of voices and styles, David Eagleman has managed to genuinely provide pause for thought with these thought-provoking essays. Encompassing themes of religion, love, family, possessions, ethics, organic chemistry, inter-galactic wars and others - there is some good value here. Even a little humour to boot.

Unfortunately I felt that the cumulative effect of the 'forty tales' was that too many were too similar or reminiscent of those already discovered. My personal preference might have been for ten or twenty essays which might have had the luxury in time and space to really explore some bright ideas that too often came across as not much more than a decent plot for an above-average sci-fi episode on TV. ( )
1 vote Polaris- | Sep 17, 2014 |
Six-word review: Life glimpsed as if from beyond.

Extended review: In 110 small pages, author and neuroscientist Eagleman treats us to forty vignettes displaying perspectives on life as if seen in a rear-view mirror.

This is not a book about religion or spirituality, and it does not summon us to believe, but rather to be aware of our lives in present time. Each of these small gems is both fanciful and philosophical, some silly and some profound, all of them out of the ordinary by either a little or a lot.

What if the repetitive actions of our lives--showering, standing in line, signing our names--were performed not intermittently but each in one long, unbroken sequential turn? What if the molecules that make up our bodies missed being part of the old gang once it's broken up and redistributed? What if we were invented as computing machines to enable some lower form of intelligence to discover the answers to their big questions? These interesting speculations on the cosmic mysteries, from two to four pages apiece, are like sparklers on the Fourth of July: not starbursts that light up the sky and awe the multitude, perhaps, but entertaining by ones and twos, small enough that we can handle them and still feel that we've played a modest part in the greater show.

The originality of Eagleman's perceptions and their accessible presentation on this miniature scale make Sum impossible to rank alongside 800-page novels and weighty works of scholarship. I'm giving it three and a half "I really liked it" stars without reflecting any regard or disregard toward comparable works, of which I can't think of any. ( )
  Meredy | Apr 21, 2014 |
Showing 1-5 of 55 (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)

(see all 2 descriptions)

"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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Canongate Books

3 editions of this book were published by Canongate Books.

Editions: 1847674275, 1847674283, 1847678971

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