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Sum: Tales from the Afterlives

Sum: Tales from the Afterlives


Sum: Tales from the Afterlives

avaliações:
4.5/5 (56 avaliações)
Comprimento:
2 horas
Lançado em:
Jun 8, 2010
ISBN:
9781441851581
Formato:
Audiolivro

Descrição

SUM shows us forty wonderfully imagined possibilities of life beyond death.

In one afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and is unaware of your existence. In another, your creators are a species of dim-witted creatures who built us to figure out what they could not. In a different version of the afterlife you work as a background character in other people's dreams. Or you may find that the afterlife contains only people whom you remember, or that the hereafter includes the thousands of previous gods who no longer attract followers. In some afterlives you are split into your different ages; in some you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been; in others you are re-created from your credit card records and Internet history. Many versions of our purpose here are proposed; we are mobile robots for cosmic mapmakers, we are reunions for a scattered confederacy of atoms, we are experimental subjects for gods trying to understand what makes couples stick together.

These tales-at once witty, wistful and unsettling-are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence while asking the key questions about death, hope, technology, immortality, love, biology and desire that expose radiant new facets of our humanity.
Lançado em:
Jun 8, 2010
ISBN:
9781441851581
Formato:
Audiolivro


Sobre o autor

David Eagleman (Nuevo México, 1971) es un neurocientífico del Baylor College of Medicine, donde dirige el Laboratorio de Percepción y Acción, así como la Iniciativa sobre Neurociencia y Derecho. Asimismo es Guggenheim Fellow. Publica sus trabajos de investigación en prestigiosas revistas científicas como Science y Nature. Entre sus libros como neurocientífico están Live-Wired: The Shape-Shifting Plasticity of the Brain y Wednesday is Indigo Blue: Discovering the Brain of Synesthesia. Incógnito se mantuvo firmemente en las listas de los libros más vendidos del New York Times.

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4.3
56 avaliações / 44 Análises
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Avaliações de leitores

  • (5/5)
    A good short read.
  • (4/5)
    What a find! I picked it up because of the cover (wow) and kept it because of the quote from Brian Eno on the cover saying how wonderfully original it is. It is a collection of forty short, and I mean short, stories. Stories are 2 or 3 pages long, more like extended statements really. Each one starts with something like "In the afterlife, you....." and goes on to elaborate on an idea about what happens when you are dead.The stories are fantastical and in some cases seem to be inspired by drug-taking or being mentally ill- but in a good way! They mess with your head and get to approach things from some very odd angles. This book has a very "life is not what it seems" theme to it.
  • (3/5)
    While several tales in this book are thought provoking or amusing, the book was, in my opinion, about 20 tales too long. Several themes, like the consequences resulting from differences of scale, were overworked. And, to sum up the whole compilation, the implied conclusion that all afterlives will disappoint was the most overworked theme of all.
  • (3/5)
    Got this out for the Nick Cave readings. Listened to a bunch - the stories are excellent. Witty and subversive.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (5/5)
    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.
  • (3/5)
    This is not a book meant to be rushed. Perhaps I will pick this up again one day and read an afterlife a day until I reach the end. Then I could give it the extra star it probably deserves. Or even better, I could lean over to a friend after each story and say, "What do you think about this ?"
  • (5/5)
    These forty short stories speculate the forms an afterlife might take. They are conceptual, thought-provoking, quirky, and often quite poetic. In length they remind me of Etgar Keret's stories, but in tone they conjure up hints of Italo Calvino's works. I enjoyed the brevity of the tales, and I think the author David Eagleman has a style that is both lyrical and compact, but I couldn't help but wonder how much more resonance some of the stories might achieve if their concepts had been expanded. This is all to say that I would happily read more of his work, and I hope that he attempts something in a longer form, because I thoroughly enjoyed these tales.
  • (3/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    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.
  • (4/5)
    [Sum:Forty Tales from the Afterlives] by [[David Eagleman] is a one of a kind collection of parables about what happens after you die. The title comes from Descartes' "Cogito ergo sum", I think therefore I am, and the good news is in these stories you get to keep thinking and am-ing after death. In one, the paradisal afterlife is equally unsatisfying to everyone: "The Communists are baffled and irritated, because they have finally achieved their perfect society, but only by the help of a God in whom they don't want to believe. The meritocrats are abashed that they're stuck in eternity in an incentiveless system with a bunch of pinkos. The conservatives have no penniless to disparage; the liberals have no downtrodden to promote." How terrible! In another the religious warring among true believers continues, which apparently is much more satisfying.He comes at you from mind-opening angles. In one you get to relive your life by categories of activities, rather than sequential time, so you spend six days clipping your nails, 18 months standing in line, and so on. In another you get to choose your next incarnation, e.g. as a horse, and you'd better choose wisely. Another one that caught my fancy is his positing that we are sophisticated machines created by a stupider race to help answer their questions about life. However, they have trouble understanding how we live our lives and what our answers to high level questions mean - which then gets compared to our relationship with the sophisticated machines we have created in this life.Each of these very short stories in an approximately 100 page paperback made me stop and think a while about its message. Eagleman's a neuroscientist, and the closest comparison I can think of to this book is physics professor [[Alan Lightman]]'s great book of short story-fables, [Einstein's Dreams], in which Einstein dreams of places where time acts differently than the way we conceive it. Here, [[Eagleman]] is able to poke humbling holes in our foibles and assumptions through his stories of what the afterlife may be. I saw one reviewer called this a work of genius, and that fits. Thanks to Megan for recommending this one.
  • (4/5)
    I have heard about the author, neuroscientist and philosopher David Eagleman, before because his nonfiction work, Incognito, is currently on display at my local bookstore. However, I became really impressed with Eagleman when he spoke at the Brooklyn Academy of Music where he discussed dreams and perception while we watched the 2010 movie Inception.

    During the Q&A portion, he discussed Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives and it got me curious. I'm glad it did because Sum is amazing! In Sum, Eagleman describes 40 short versions of afterlives ranging from a fast moving quark, encountering Gods who are not as intelligent as us, Us literally being Actors in real life, Us who are high processing cameras for Gods known as Cartographers, and a giant reversal of life, itself.

    My favorites were Metamorphosis, Mary, Sum, Graveyard of the Gods, Narcissus, and Death Switch. My only complaint is that the tales were too short! I wanted more and I would have loved more but I guess "it's sheer elegance in its simplicity."
  • (4/5)
    What a find! I picked it up because of the cover (wow) and kept it because of the quote from Brian Eno on the cover saying how wonderfully original it is. It is a collection of forty short, and I mean short, stories. Stories are 2 or 3 pages long, more like extended statements really. Each one starts with something like "In the afterlife, you....." and goes on to elaborate on an idea about what happens when you are dead.The stories are fantastical and in some cases seem to be inspired by drug-taking or being mentally ill- but in a good way! They mess with your head and get to approach things from some very odd angles. This book has a very "life is not what it seems" theme to it.
  • (4/5)
    Sum is a collection of 40 essays about what the Afterlife might look like. For example, in his title story Sum, everyone gets a chance to relive their lives, except with a different order, where similar activities are grouped together. So, you would spend 10 years straight just sleeping, or 5 days brushing your teeth and WAY too many days browsing on goodreads (but it would be fun!). His essays are so quirky and refreshingly creative - definitely food for thought.
  • (4/5)
    Odd but compelling collection of vignettes. Eagleman’s scenarios are all afterlives with very inventive twists. A common theme is technology gone awry, but not in the way you’d think. In these situations, we’re the technology, designed with some goal in mind that we don’t know about, and we often end up thwarting this goal despite our creator’s (or creators’) best intentions. I wouldn’t want to end up in some of these “heavens,” but they do provide lots of food for thought -- and inspiration to act differently just in case any of them are true!
  • (5/5)
    Open this slim, delightful, and clever book and take a journey inside the mind of David Eagleman, a remarkable modern-day renaissance man. Eagleman is a brilliant, accomplished neuroscientist who also happens to have a B. A. in British and American literature. He has both a fierce love for literature and an insatiable scientific curiosity. He is also the kind of all-around normal type of guy who makes a stand-out charming guest on “The Colbert Report.” This background is a marvelous brew and makes any journey through his gifted brain a unique intellectual delight. In this book, Eagleman sets his prodigious creative genius to the task of imagining a set of forty different fates that might await us in the afterlife. These forty vignettes are fantasies; he’s not serious. It’s probably best to think of them as “thought experiments.” Certainly, most were done for fun; however, in some cases, along the way, some significant and profound ideas are uncovered.The book is only 128 pages, but it is one of those svelte beauties that is best read a little at a time; in fact, if you try to read too many of these brief narratives in one sitting, the vignettes start to fade and lose their luster. Eagleman is a powerful prose stylist; he has obviously read a great deal of fine literature and knows how to put words together effectively. Many of the tales would be very entertaining if read out loud at a social gathering. Because Eagleman is a scientist, it is not surprising that many of the forty afterlife narratives contain parodies of well-accepted scientific research processes; they are like insider jokes. Scientists will see themselves in these vignettes and laugh at their hubris. I’m glad I have this work in electronic form on my Kindle. I have a feeling that I’ll enjoy revisiting these essays from time to time when I need something brief, clever, and whimsical to fill my time. I heartily recommend this book to anyone with an inquisitive mind and an offbeat sense of humor. [You might wonder how I know so much about the author. It is because I am in the process of researching and writing a report on his life and achievements for a class I’m taking on the book, “This Will Make You Smarter: New Scientific Concepts to Improve Your Thinking.” I recommend that book, too!]
  • (3/5)
    Imaginative, humorous, profound. Don't read this all in one sitting, read one or two of these short pieces at a time.
  • (4/5)
    Forty "what if" scenarios regarding the afterlife. These short tales are funny, quirky, and sure to spark your imagination. I immediately felt the urge to reread my favorites, and quote them to friends.
  • (4/5)
    Loved the inventiveness and humour in these vignettes, all looking at how an afterlife might work. The 'recreators' one where people's lives are reconstructed in the afterlife from their traces in the records they leave behind was particularly resonant for an archivist!
  • (4/5)
    This little collection is written in the second person, and it describes 40 afterlives in rapid succession. They are both thoughtful and whimsical, and it was a delight to see where you (I) would end up next. There were some great ideas, and some pleasing flights of fancy, and I really enjoyed it.
  • (5/5)
    I absolutely loved reading this book. Ran through it like a glutton gobbling every story, giggling with delight. This is one book I'll buy hard copy and keep it lying around for occasional browsing. I'd like to dwell and investigate a few of the vignettes. I'm sure they've permeated my sub-conscious and will pop up in my own imaginings. Oh -- and yes, I highly recommend it to anyone willing to explore the possible options in the afterlife.
  • (3/5)
    Imaginative, entertaining, frequently thought provoking, like getting punched in the side of the head and suddenly lines are bent and squares are circles, for a moment at least, which is about the best you can ask of an author. Some of the vignettes are slightly derivative but no less pleasing for it. Can be somewhat repetitive as the same question is asked 40 times: what if the afterlife is…? However, the book, like poetry, should probably be read in bites rather than a gulp. Spread the book out over a few weeks and the sense of repetition would disappear.
  • (4/5)
    Forty short stories (that read more like science fiction rather than anything religious or spiritual) that present alternative versions of what happens after we die. I didn't like all of the stories but the ones I liked (most of them) I really, really enjoyed. The most creative book I've read in while.
  • (5/5)
    The author gives us 40 different versions of what might happen after we die. Each one is a priceless gem that is worth meditating on. I could sense a grain of truth in each tale that illuminated the values we hold in life. I read each tale in sequence, but I would be glad to pick up this book from time to time and reread the tales at random.
  • (5/5)
    40 perfectly formed stories, exuberantly exploring the "what if" of our afterlife’s. Each exceedingly short tale (2-3 pages) not only contains a gem of an idea and is beautifully written but manages to twist and turn in wonderfully surprising ways. Not just a cool premise but a brief exploration of it, of what this idea could really mean.Written by neuroscientist David Eagleman to fit into his idea of "Possibilianism", straddled between fundamental atheism and religious belief.."with Possibilianism I'm hoping to define a new position — one that emphasizes the exploration of new, unconsidered possibilities. Possibilianism is comfortable holding multiple ideas in mind; it is not interested in committing to any particular story" You don’t have to care a jot for the reason behind the book, you can take joy in the stories. Only a strict fundamentalist could be offended, there are gods and a God, there are aliens, secret masters, robots and well just us.It’s hard to pick a favourite but to give you a flavour (skip to the next paragraph if you want no idea spoilers) I loved the delicious view that in heaven God venerates Mary Shelley because he understands Dr Frankenstein and shuddered at the thought of an eternity where we live with all possible versions of us, so we always compare ourselves against the ones who did better & loathe the ones who failed. Highly recommended to everyone, It is a joyful celebration of us and our imaginations and our ability to spin yarns.
  • (5/5)
    I smiled throughout the book. Eagleman's Sum has the imagination and quirkiness of Neil Gaiman's works, the conciseness and insightfulness of The Little Prince, and philosophical dimensions comparable to a modern Voltaire. I highly recommend this for everyone.
  • (4/5)
    Forty tiny glimpses of different afterlives, different gods, different ways for the mysteries of the universe to be arranged: An afterlife that's a dull suburb, or a battleground, or where you can meet your possible alternate selves or a you for every age you've ever been. A god who is an amateur tinkerer, or a married couple, or a being too vast to be aware of our microscopic existences or too microscopic to be aware of our vastness. A world that's a giant computer, or the place where godlike beings come on vacation, or nothing but one subatomic particle telling stories to itself.Some of these are more original than others, more clever or thought-provoking or effective than others. Most of them don't hold up terribly well if you try to take them too literally. But all in all, it's a nifty collection of imaginative exercises, with a few brilliant little gems scattered through it.
  • (4/5)
    "Sum" is a delightful, quick read that presents 40 different takes on the hereafter. It's witty and gives the reader plenty to think about. It's full of good humor, smart, well written, and loads of fun.