“There are three deaths. The first is when the body cease 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”
What happens to us when we die? And what does that tell us about being human?
In the afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. Or you may find the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember. In some afterlives you are split into all your different ages; in some you are recreated based on your credit-card records; and in others you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been.
In these wonderfully imagined tales - at once funny, wistful and unsettling - Eagleman kicks over the chessboard of traditional notions and offers us a dazzling lens through which to see ourselves here and now. His stories are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence: a mixture of hope, love and death that cuts through human nature at innovative angles.
“Witty, bright, sharp and unexpected … as surprising a book as I’ve read for years. Every story is a new Heaven.”
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“A very well-written, very funny and very thought-provoking book that makes you realize that when it comes to the afterlife, most religions suffer from an acute shortage of imagination. Sum immediately made me think of several more alternative afterlives”
yuval Noah Harari
“SUM is terrific. It’s such a good idea that I was grinding my teeth all the way through wishing I’d thought of it first. The inventiveness, the clarity and wit of the prose, the calm air of moral understanding that pervades the whole thing, add up to something completely original. I hope Sum will be the great big hit it deserves to be.”
“Brilliantly realised, blazingly original, Sum isn’t so much about the next life as this one. Eagleman’s stories - parables? - a chilly reminder of our foibles and delusions.”
“40 intriguing tales describing different heavenly scenarios … and all formidably imagined … Readers may discover much to appreciate - not least the lives they are living now, still so much better than some nightmares in these pages … quirky, occasionally unsettling … never short of new new ideas, all of them rolled out with style.”
David Eagleman, PhD, is a neuroscientist and internationally bestselling author. He teaches at Stanford University, is the creator and host of the Emmy-nominated television series The Brain, and is the CEO of Neosensory, a company that builds the next generation of neuroscience hardware. The author of seven other books, he lives in Silicon Valley in California.
@davideagleman | eagleman.com
Jeffrey Tambor, reading from David Eagleman’s Sum, via Radiolab.