Lorin Recommends: Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives by David Eagleman
Not content to be simply an author, David Eagleman also makes his living as a neuroscientist. So, aside from being a giant overachiever, he’s obviously taken with the larger enigmas of the brain and consciousness, including our obsession with the great prevailing mystery of what happens when we die.
In this tidy volume, Eagleman explores forty fictional answers to this question, taking us from one afterlife in which all of our life experiences are aggregated and played out in chunks (so that we spend thirty years straight sleeping and twenty-seven very intense hours experiencing a lifetime’s worth of physical pain.) to a world in which God is a married couple with an unraveling relationship to another in which it’s determined that Earth is merely a cell inside God’s body.
These are short vignettes, not stories per se, but cumulatively they create a work that’s thought-provoking, touching, and ultimately inspiring. They remind us that as writers, so many worlds are possible, so many flights of imagination. And most importantly, the book serves as a wonderful treatise on the power of questions over answers, of uncertainty over fact. Very well worth a read.