Sum, Forty Tales from the Afterlives.

· December 31, 2020

Sum, a set excellent thought experiments.


40/∞ possibilities.

This book is a collection of 40 tales, involving Gods, nameless entities, and you. These 40 tales, in my opinion, could be better described as thought experiments on what happens in our afterlives, lives that we lead after we have “passed away” - or whatever that could mean to us.

How do I review all of them? Some of these are excellent, they will stick with me for a long, long time. Some of them are so so. Most of them are a great read. There are tales that are a 10, and there are tales that are a 4 at best. Fortunately, most of the tales are in the 7-10 range.

If I where to point out an overarching theme in these tales, it would be that of introspection, existentialism and mindfulness. Many question what it is to be alive, what it means to be human, and what is the purpose of our life on earth.

The book opens with the titular tale, “Sum”. It imagines an afterlfe, where we relive our whole life, being replayed in a grouped manner - think two hundred days showering, fifty one days deciding what to wear, seven hours of vomiting; you get the idea. Its a beautiful thought experiment, executed brilliantly. It truly makes you appreciate the shuffled order of our life. The rest of the collection is a set of many such tales, some that leave a lasting impact on life and its meaning. Many show the scientific prowess, and the philosophical insights that a celebrated neuroscientist has. Things get technical sometimes, in the juiciest sense of the word.

Closing thoughts.

I think you should read this book. The tales are short, and can be consumed easily, and make you think. I loved that about this book. Having known and read his other non-fiction book Livewired, I was pleasantly surprised by the fiction writing prowess of David Eagleman. This is a very strong 8/10 for me.

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