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Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  12,576 ratings  ·  1,770 reviews
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 dre ...more
Hardcover, 110 pages
Published February 10th 2009 by Pantheon
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4.14  · 
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 ·  12,576 ratings  ·  1,770 reviews

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Jun 06, 2010 rated it liked it
In the afterlife you discover that all the goodreaders are in the same walled-off section of heaven. God greets you in the form of your ideal librarian. In the goodreads heaven library you witness the librarian gamut: examples include a fatherly professor, a stern but gentle middle-aged woman, and a supermodel in a plaid skirt with legs that won’t quit. If you are a seventeen year old girl God is a combination of Ben Harrison and that guy from 500 Days of Summer.

The more time you spent on goodre
Nov 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book blew me away; I underlined and starred dozens of sentences and typed them in to my friends on email. Sum tells 40 vignettes from the afterlife, but you quickly figure out that (a) the stories are mutually exclusive (if one is true then the others cannot be), and (b) the stories are not about the afterlife at all, but instead unusual portraits about the here-and-now. After I read it I found out that the author David Eagleman is a brain scientist during the day, and that explains a bit a ...more
Will Byrnes
Nov 27, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: short-stories
You do not have to be a subscriber to any of the more common religions in this world to harbor some notion, some hope, that there might be a form of personal existence beyond death. Eagelman has come up with forty possible post-mortem futures and offers them up in bite-size stories in this slim volume. The tales range from tedious to inspired. There is an O-Henry-esque tale in which a man’s greatest desire is to become a horse. A vision of God as being fascinated with Mary Shelley’s masterpiece ...more
Jul 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Twilight Zone lovers
“Everyone is a brother to all, and for the first time an idea has been realized that never came to fruition on Earth: true equality. 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 for eternity in an incentiveless system with a bunch of pinkos. The conservatives have no penniless to disparage; the liberals have no downtrodden to pr
MJ Nicholls
Mar 29, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
My favourite video game of all time is a homemade 2D platformer on the little-known Yaroze—a black, programmable Playstation—called Time Slip . In this game you are a snail with a one-minute lifespan who has to use his time on screen to stand on buttons that open doors to other parts of the level. Once the minute is up, the snail is reincarnated as another snail at the beginning of the level, or at the latest checkpoint. The ghost of your previous snail remains on the map, reliving its movement ...more
Apr 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2009
Work. Of. Genius.

Deniz Balcı
“Ve…Sonraki Hayattan Kırk Öykü” beni çocukluğuma götüren bir kitap oldu. Hayal gücümün henüz çok örselenmediği hayatımın ilk yıllarında sürekli evrene, varoluşa ve Tanrı’ya dair gülünç ama kendimce mantıklı fikirlerin hayalini kurardım. Bu kitapta da aynı öyle tasavvurlar var. Eğlenceli ve zihni geliştiren bir okuma vaat ettiğini söyleyebilirim. Ancak ben öyküleri arka arkaya okuma hatasına düştüm. Öyle olunca sürekli kendini tekrar eden ve birbirinin üzerine binen parçacıkları okumuş oldum ve n ...more
Jul 19, 2009 rated it did not like it
Some of these stories were indeed imaginative scenarios of what the afterlife is like or what God might be like. But because his Heaven or God is always imagined as some inversion of a human hierarchy or gets repetitive very fast. God always lacks some human quality that intrinsically keeps him as God and us as humans, or...he's just like us, but just a smaller or larger scale. Because his Heaven is always some rearranged variation of the human life, all the stories start to sound the ...more
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 ...more
Oct 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-stories
A collection of forty short texts describing different possible afterlives that gives you a few gems here and there, but also leaves a lot to be desired. The characters are completely anonymous - which is fine. This is simply a collection of thought experiments.

In one story we are atoms in Gods body, in another the dead are not allowed to rest until everyone alive have forgotten about them (Shakespeare must be pretty mad by now if this one turns out to be true). There are a lot of stories circli
Jul 07, 2011 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Caroline by: Dave Cullen

An enjoyable set of inventive "what if?" vignettes, Sum is Eagleman's envisionings of various versions of the afterlife. All are impressively unique, and some really stretch the mind. Be sure to open this book while fully alert. Eagleman's background as a neuroscientist is, at times, on full display in these pages as some of his ideas veer into the complex and obscure with talk of quarks and atoms. Readers not inclined toward the scientific may find these boring. Fortunately, th
Amy | shoutame
Mar 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult
Such a quaint little read!

I didn't know what to expect when going into this book but I was pleasantly surprised. Eagleman takes the reader to mystical and dark places as he contemplates what the afterlife may hold. From a heaven where Mary Shelley (author of Frankenstein) is Queen to an afterlife where you act as the extras in living peoples dreams - this book is a real look into an incredible imagination. Although each tale is only a couple of pages long I was fully transported to each ghostly
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I loved this book. Normally I find it difficult to read an entire volume of short fiction (the stories in this book are so short they could almost be called sudden fiction), but this collection of hypothetical versions of the afterlife was so cleverly done that I couldn't stop reading it. Brilliant! Even though I've already read it I want to buy a copy to add to my personal library.
Resh (The Book Satchel)
Jan 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Pure delight to those who love speculations and out-of-the-world stories. Pun intended.
Alyssa Banguilan
Mar 22, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Want to stretch your mind for a bit? Check out this little book packed with imaginative possibilities of what happens after you die. Written by a neuroscientist, Sum captures many facets of the Afterlife that are told succinctly in a series of vignettes that pull from science, fantasy, sci-fi, mythology, pop culture, religion, and probably a few nightmares and daydreams. But what if....?
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
A beautiful elegy for the lives we have chosen to lead or not to lead. Sum is a wonderous piece of writing. While the book is comprised of 40 imaginings of the afterlife, it is much more a celebration of everything which has come before it. After reading Sum, I was left awestruck again by the world around us.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough.
Aug 15, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read Thai version last night. A good translation and very thought-provoking. Recommended!
Apr 08, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Now putting the finishing touches to the Bulgarian translation.

Caveat: Sum will bring no insight to those who seek visions of the afterworld--and no consolation either. ;) Instead, it may make us re-examine our very own lives, here and now. Perhaps avoid some of the blunders. Definitely laugh. At ourselves, most of the time.

I laughed in "Quantum":

In the afterlife you can enjoy all possibilities at once, living multiple lives in parallel. You find yourself simultaneously eating and not eating. Yo
May 25, 2010 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to unknown by: Donna, in that she read it first
Fitfully imaginative, often repetitive meditations on what might happen after we die that frequently get sidetracked into cute commentaries on how we live now. Which isn't unexpected, I suppose. But the most entertaining and thoughtful of these stories truly fulfill the promise of the premise; the others just didn't do much for me. Also, way too many of them involve variations on the idea that we are unknowingly cogs in some vast system, but this might not bug if I hadn't read the book in two si ...more
Apr 09, 2012 rated it liked it
Interesting that on a reread and many years after first reading this, I have lowered my rating! It’s a quick read and thought provoking but I found the stories a little hit and miss. They were snippets of ideas. I wonder if my reading taste has changed- I used to be much more engaged with ideas of life after death, so it’s weird that as I get older and presumably closer to finding out the truth for myself, I’m less interested!
Mar 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book 6 stars I would! I thought it was brilliant and I plan to read it again and often.

Sum is a collection of short stories that are visions of the way we could conceive of life after we die. It is a clever way to think about your life from afar. It alternates between esoteric, profound, and hilarious.

เปนรวมเรืองสันทีผูเขียนหมกมุนกับการหาคำตอบหลายๆ แบบใหกับชีวิตหลังความตาย
เปนหนังสือทีไมไดเปิดเผยคำตอบเชิงศาสนา หรือวิทยาศาสตรใดๆ ทังสิน
แตเปนการพาผูอานทองไปในรูปแบบหลังความตายทีเกิดขึนจากจินตนาการสุดลำลึกของผูเขียน ซึงไปไกลกวาทีใครจะจินตนาการไดถึง แถมยังปาไปตัง 40 แบบ
บางบทยังมีการเสียดสีถึงความเชือเรืองผูสราง พระเจา และทวยเทพตางๆ อยางเบาๆ
หนังสือไมไดสือถึงแควาตายแลวจะเปนยังไงเทานัน แตยังลากยอนกลับไปถึงวาเราเกิดมาทำไม อะไรคือจุดมุงหมายของชีวิต

ยอมรับวาอานแลวไมได appr
Lara Messersmith-Glavin
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was ok
Shelves: spirit
A charming little thought-experiment conducted by a writer of rich yet limited imagination. This book has received rave reviews in a number of journals over the past few months, and I was on a waiting list at the library for weeks before I had a chance to check it out myself.


Clearly influenced by the structured, dreamlike musings of Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Sum: Fory Tales from the Afterlives dances neatly through a series of post-life possibilities. Some are clever, some are odd
Apr 15, 2009 rated it liked it
Recommended to Alan by: short review
probably 3.5 actually. A fascinating book of short tales about possible afterlives, including one where all possible versions of you exist (quantum physics I think), another where God is so small he works on a microbal (?) level, and is simply unaware of us, a bi-product of bacteria. Or where the afterlife conforms to capitalist principles and for a reasoable price you can download your version of heaven. Or When you arrive in the afterlife, you find that Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley sits on a th ...more
Özlem Güzelharcan
Öldükten sonra nereye gideriz ya da bir yere gider miyiz? Tanrı dediğimiz şey aslında bir devanası mı? Ya birileri bizi hep anarsa ve o zaman biz de sonsuza dek var olursak ne olur, sıkılmaz mıyız? Ya Tanrı bizden çok bunalmış ve çoktan başka evrenlere taşınmışsa?

Bu hikayeler bir harika dostum!
Jun 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
สนุกกก ไมไดคิดหรอกนะวาหลังตายจะมีอะไรแบบนี แตเราจะคิดถึงชีวิตตัวเองตอนนีมากกวา บาง chapter นีกแซะนิม ๆ ...more
Jun 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sum is a slim book, just 100 pages long, with 40 different views of what the afterlife might be like. Some of them feel too glib and flippant for me (though no doubt the same stories would make others smile), but there are some that are really inventive, bittersweet and clever, and some that just have really good lines. Like this one:

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
Aslı Can
Kitap yaratıcı bir zihinden çıktığı belli olan ve üzerine düşünmesi zevkli olabilecek ölümden sonra yaşam hayalleri sunuyor ama ben kitabın kurgusunda olmamış bir şeyler sezdiğim için çok keyfini çıkaramadım bu hayallerin. Yazarın bilim insanı olan tarafı, yaratıcı yazar olan tarafını biraz bastırmış sanırım.

Bu türde - türden kastım yazarı bilim kökenli olup, kurguya dayalı ama yazarın bilim uğraşına dayalı bilgisini de az ya da çok içeren kitaplar - Alan Lightman'ın Bay Tanrı isimli kitabını ok
เอกภพ สิทธิวรรณธนะ
SUM ผลรวมหลังวางวาย

ผมอาน 'SUM : สีสิบเรืองเลาหลังความตาย' จบไปนานแลว แตพอไดจัดหองใหม ผมจึงคอยกลับมาเหนหนังสือปกแปลกๆ วางอยูบนโตะอีกครัง ไดกลับมาพลิกอานบทสองบท อารามจึงปรากฏอารมณอยากเขียนถึงขึนมา

ใครตอใครวากันวา คนตายไปแลวยอมไมกลับมาบอกวาชีวิตหลังความตายเปนอยางไร บางกวามันเปนสถานทีทีดีจนไมมีใครอยากกลับ บางกวากลไกลึกลับทางวิญญาณไมอนุญาตใหเปนเชนนัน บางกวาอันทีจริงคนตายกกลับมารายงานสภาพนรกสวรรคอยูเนืองๆ แตคนหัววิทยไมยอมเชือตางหาก

ไมวาใครจะวาอยางไร คุณเดวิด อีเกิลแมน กไมสนใจ แกยังคงขะมักขะเมนฟุงฝันถึงช
Engin Türkgeldi
Jan 07, 2011 rated it it was amazing
All 40 stories in this book are about afterlife. These are not your typical stories. They do not have a plot, characters, or even a clear clear beginning or an end. These are more like meditations on life. They contemplate on what afterlife may be like. The stories are highly creative, original and witty, and they rarely fail to amuse you(or make you smile).

The theme of the book is "afterlife". This may mislead you that this book has a religious or holy side, or it is a spiritual book. However,
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Goodreads Librari...: This topic has been closed to new comments. Please combine 7 46 Sep 03, 2015 11:27AM  
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David Eagleman is a neuroscientist, a New York Times bestselling author, and a Guggenheim Fellow. During the day he runs a neuroscience research laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine in the Texas Medical Center in Houston. At night he writes. His books have been translated into 23 languages.
“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.” 474 likes
“Since we live in the heads of those who remember us, we lose control of our lives and become who they want us to be.” 74 likes
More quotes…