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At once funny, wistful and unsettling, Sum is a dazzling exploration of unexpected afterlives—each presented as a vignette that offers a stunning. Ebook download any format Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives Unlimited Free Book Details Author: David Eagleman Pages: Binding. Also by David Eagleman. Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives. Incognito: The Secret Lives of the Brain. Why the Net Matters: Six Easy Ways to Avert the Collapse.
It challenges and teases as it spins out different parables of possibility. It is full of tangential insights into the human condition and poetic thought experiments.
It is also full of touching moments and glorious wit of the sort one only hopes will be in copious supply on the other side. Challenges you to leave well-traveled paths of belief and think in bold, new ways. In total they present a realm where you are certain to learn something about the life you just left behind. Sum is great fun—sort of a brainy parlor game in print—and a modest satire aimed at zealots who define heaven and God to serve their own ends.
It is also a reminder that when it comes to our knowledge of the hereafter, we have loads of faith but not a scintilla of proof.
Sum has the unaccountable, jaw-dropping quality of genius. Excitement pervades the whole volume. 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. Each tale imagines an unexpected reality that might await us, possible worlds that illuminate life with colors rarely encountered. Sum is a work of literary fiction composed of forty mutually exclusive stories. Each story offers a different reason for our existence and the meaning of life and death. Can you give us some examples?
In different stories, God is a married couple, God is a committee, God is a species of dimwitted creatures, or God is the size of a bacterium. In other stories there is no God at all and people in the afterlife battle over stories of His non-existence.
In other stories we are mobile rovers built by planetary cartographers, or we are ten-dimensional creatures taking a vacation in three-dimensional bodies, or our life runs backwards after the expansion of the universe reverses and you get to see all the details you mis-remembered. How long did it take you to write Sum? Seven years. I wrote over 75 stories, but only included those in the book that created the right combination.
Tell us about the title.
Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives
I chose Sum for three reasons. Third, the point of this book is that the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. What is that something bigger? They have no doubt about the absolute truth of their story, even though every other adherent in every other religion shares that same certainty and knows that all other religions are patently untrue.
The important thing should be to explore and celebrate the vast possibilities. The mutual exclusivity of the stories in Sum are designed to allow this.
The aim of this book is to swing a flashlight around the possibility space. So do you believe any of the stories in Sum could be true? None are meant to be serious proposals. The only serious proposal is the emergent message of the book: that there are many possibilities, and we should be discussing the size of that space instead of battling over the details of the pitifully few stories that our ancestors entertained. But do you consider any of the stories in Sum more probable than any others?
They are all equally improbable. Do you believe in anything? I believe in possibility. Is that compatible with your scientific career?
It is the heart of a scientific career. Seven hours vomiting. Fourteen minutes experiencing pure joy. Three months doing laundry. Fifteen hours writing your signature. Two days tying shoelaces. Sixty-seven days of heartbreak.
Five weeks driving lost. Three days calculating restaurant tips. Fifty-one days deciding what to wear. Nine days pretending you know what is being talked about.
Two weeks counting money. Eighteen days staring into the refrigerator. Thirty-four days longing. Six months watching commercials.
Four weeks sitting in thought, wondering if there is something better you could be doing with your time. Three years swallowing food.
Five days working buttons and zippers. Four minutes wondering what your life would be like if you reshuffled the order of events.
In this part of the afterlife, you imagine something analogous to your Earthly life, and the thought is blissful: In the afterlife you discover that God understands the complexities of life. She had originally submitted to peer pressure when She structured Her universe like all the other gods had, with a binary categorization of people into good and evil. But it didn't take long for Her to realize that humans could be good in many ways and simultaneously corrupt and meanspirited in other ways.
How was She to arbitrate who goes to Heaven and who to Hell?
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Might not it be possible, She considered, that a man could be an embezzler and still give to charitable causes? Might not a woman be an adulteress but bring pleasure and security to two men's lives? Might not a child unwittingly divulge secrets that splinter a family? Dividing the population into two categories — good and bad — seemed like a more reasonable task when She was younger, but with experience these decisions became more difficult.
She composed complex formulas to weigh hundreds of factors, and ran computer programs that rolled out long strips of paper with eternal decisions.
But Her sensitivities revolted at this automation — and when the computer generated a decision She disagreed with, She took the opportunity to kick out the plug in rage. That afternoon She listened to the grievances of the dead from two warring nations. Both sides had suffered, both sides had legitimate grievances, both pled their cases earnestly. She covered Her ears and moaned in misery. She knew Her humans were multidimensional, and She could no longer live under the rigid architecture of Her youthful choices.
Not all gods suffer over this; we can consider ourselves lucky that in death we answer to a God with deep sensitivity to the byzantine hearts of Her creations. For months She moped around Her living room in Heaven, head drooped like a bulrush, while the lines piled up.
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Her advisors advised Her to delegate the decision making, but She loved Her humans too much to leave them to the care of anyone else.
In a moment of desperation the thought crossed Her mind to let everyone wait on line indefinitely, letting them work it out on their own.
But then a better idea struck Her generous spirit. She could afford it: She would grant everyone, every last human, a place in Heaven. After all, everyone had something good inside; it was part of the design specifications.
Her new plan brought back the bounce to Her gait, returned the color to Her cheeks. She shut down the operations in Hell, fired the Devil, and brought every last human to be by Her side in Heaven.
Newcomers or old-timers, nefarious or righteous: Most people find Her a little garrulous and oversolicitous, but She cannot be accused of not caring. The most important aspect of Her new system is that everyone is treated equally. There is no longer fire for some and harp music for others. The afterlife is no longer defined by cots versus waterbeds, raw potatoes versus sushi, hot water versus champagne.
Everyone is a brother to all, and for the first time an idea has been realized that never came to fruition on Earth: 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 promote. So God sits on the edge of Her bed and weeps at night, because the only thing everyone can agree upon is that they're all in Hell.
Circle of Friends. When you die, you feel as though there were some subtle change, but everything looks approximately the same. You get up and brush your teeth.
You kiss your spouse and kids and leave for the office. There is less traffic than normal. The rest of your building seems less full, as though it's a holiday. But everyone in your office is here, and they greet you kindly.
You feel strangely popular.
Everyone you run into is someone you know. At some point, it dawns on you that this is the afterlife: It's a small fraction of the world population — about 0. View all New York Times newsletters. It turns out that only the people you remember are here. So the woman with whom you shared a glance in the elevator may or may not be included. Your second-grade teacher is here, with most of the class.
Forty Tales from the Afterlives
Your parents, your cousins, and your spectrum of friends through the years. All your old lovers. Your boss, your grandmothers, and the waitress who served your food each day at lunch.
Those you dated, those you almost dated, those you longed for. It is a blissful opportunity to spend quality time with your one thousand connections, to renew fading ties, to catch up with those you let slip away.
It is only after several weeks of this that you begin to feel forlorn. You wonder what's different as you saunter through the vast quiet parks with a friend or two. No strangers grace the empty park benches. No family unknown to you throws bread crumbs for the ducks and makes you smile because of their laughter.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. download the Ebook: And science over the past years has been tremendously successful.
Three years swallowing food. In "Narcissus," the creators are called Cartographers.
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