What happens to us when we die? And what does that tell us about being human?
David Eagleman, PHD, is a neuroscientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston Texas where his research laboratory is developing a reputation for doing some of the most unusual experiments in contemporary neuroscience. He has had essays published in all manner of journals including Nature and Science. He also lectures widely and continues to be invited to speak at universities all around the world.
Neuroscientist Eagleman's (www.eagleman.com) highly acclaimed 2009 story collection features 40 brief imaginings about mortality and immortality, the meaning of life and death, beginnings and endings, and the nature of God and the cosmos. Some are witty, others are whimsical; all are glimpses into the maelstrom of human hopes and fears. A dozen top-notch narrators including Brian Eno, Miranda Richardson, Dominic West, Stephen Fry, and the author provide a variety of reading styles. Small bites of food for thought light enough for very short commutes and ideal for lovers of literary fiction, philosophy, or metaphysics.-Janet Martin, Southern Pines P.L., NC (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
A clever little book by a neuroscientist translates lofty concepts of infinity and death into accessible human terms. What happens after we die? Eagleman wonders in each of these brief, evocative segments. Are we consigned to replay a lifetime's worth of accumulated acts, as he suggests in "Sum," spending six days clipping your nails or six weeks waiting for a green light? Is heaven a bureaucracy, as in "Reins," where God has lost control of the workload? Will we download our consciousnesses into a computer to live in a virtual world, as suggested in "Great Expectations," where "God exists after all and has gone through great trouble and expense to construct an afterlife for us"? Or is God actually the size of a bacterium, battling good and evil on the "battlefield of surface proteins," and thus unaware of humans, who are merely the "nutritional substrate"? Mostly, the author underscores in "Will-'o-the-Wisp," humans desperately want to matter, and in afterlife search out the "ripples left in our wake." Eagleman's turned out a well-executed and thought-provoking book. (Feb.) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.
* Witty, bright, sharp and unexpected ... as surprising a book as I've read for years. Every story is a new Heaven. -- Brian Eno * 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. -- Philip Pullman * SUM is an imaginative and provocative book that gives new perspectives on how to view ourselves and our place in the world. Alan Lightman, author of EINSTEIN'S DREAM * 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. -- Colin Waters Sunday Herald * This is as much an object of desire as an actual book ... elegant, surreal and philosophically questioning, each story from neuroscientist Eagleman offers an inventive, thought-provoking blend of science and romance ... sly wit, ingenuity and oddly acute insight into the vagaries of the human condition. -- Tina Jackson Metro * Clever, memorable stuff. -- Lottie Moggach The London Paper * 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. -- Nicholas Tucker Independent * I suppose there could be people who dislike Canongate's latest find ... those, dare one say it, without poetry in their souls. For the rest - the millions who even in a post-religious, secular society find themselves at unexpected moments wondering who or what God is, if he's not a little old man sitting on a cloud. -- Mary Crockett Scotsman * A clever book. -- Robert Hanks Daily Telegraph * This stunningly original book is little more than 100 pages long. You can get through it in an hour, but you'd be mad to hurry, and you will certainly want to return to it many times ... Sum has the unaccountable, jaw-dropping quality of genius. It seems exquisitely adapted to fill the contemporary longing for a kind of secular holy book. -- Geoff Dyer Observer * The most thought provoking stocking filler you could hope to find: a slender volume of bite size vignettes pondering what happens after we die. Scotsman * It does what it says in the title - satirical, playful, troubling, inventive, thought provoking and often funny takes on possible afterlives. A complete one off. I've been buying it and giving to friends and family. Everyone is delighted. Keep by the bed and feed yourself one or two before turning out the light. -- Andrew Greig Sunday Herald * Charming, a bit whimsical, and thought-provoking. -- Mark Sarvas * This delightful, thought-provoking little collection belongs to that category of strange, unclassifiable books that will haunt the reader long after the last page has been turned. It is full of tangential insights into the human condition and poetic thought experiments ... full of touching moments and glorious wit of the sort one only hopes will be incopious supply on the other side. The New York Times