Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Sum: Forty Tales From the Afterlives by David Eagleman

Sum (2009) is a fascinating little book. In 110 pages, author David Eagleman offers up forty intriguing versions of The Afterlife. The tales give the reader a view into the rich imagination and clever thinking of their author. 

For example, in one afterlife all the gods and goddesses of ancient societies loll about in meadows distraught that no one thinks of them any longer.

In another, everyone gets into heaven and everyone gets treated equally. This sounds great except that, among other discontents, "The conservatives have no penniless to disparage; the liberals have no downtrodden to promote."

And then there is the version where "there is no afterlife but that doesn't mean we don't get to live a second time." The universe stops expanding and begins to contract. Everything that happened to you on the way out happens again, only in reverse. Therefore, you are born from the ground - your grave.

In the course of these tales, Mr. Eagleman gets to comment on computers, creation, romance, the personalities of The Creators, biology, and modern technology.

Mr. Eagleman, a neuroscientist, gives each version a little twist at the end. In other words, no matter how well-thought-out the plans for The Afterlife might be, there is no perfection on earth or in heaven.

This entertaining book will get you thinking. But be forewarned - it will prove to be a bit unsettling as well. I guarantee it. 


  1. What an interesting sounding book. I would never have picked this up on my own, but now I am intrigued. I'm going to look for it. That is both the blessing and the curse in learning about what other people are reading!

    1. Kathy, I must say that my mind was happy to have something unusual to think about for a while! It is a nifty little book.