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Sum: Tales from the Afterlives

Durée : 2 h et 43 min
5 out of 5 stars (2 notations)
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Description

In this astounding book, David Eagleman entertains 40 fictional possibilities of life beyond death. With wit and humanity he asks the key questions about existence, hope, technology and love.

These stories are full of big ideas and bold imagination.This audiobook assembles a stellar cast of readers who bring the scenarios of SUM brilliantly alive: Gillian Anderson, Emily Blunt, Nick Cave, Jarvis Cocker, Jack Davenport, Lisa Dwan, David Eagleman, Noel Fielding, Kerry Fox, Stephen Fry, Clarke Peters, Lemn Sissay and Harriet Walter.

©2009 David Eagleman (P)2010 Canongate Audiobooks

Critiques

"You will not read a more dazzling book this year." (Stephen Fry)
"SUM has the unaccountable, jaw-dropping quality of genius." ( Observer)
"This delightful, thought-provoking little collection...will haunt the reader long after the last page has been turned." (Alexander McCall Smith)
"Elegant, surreal and philosophically questioning, each story from neuroscientist Eagleman offers an inventive, thought-provoking blend of science and romance." ( Metro)
"SUM is terrific . . .The inventiveness, the clarity and wit of the prose and the calm air of moral understanding that pervades this book add up to something completely original." (Philip Pullman)
"Read SUM and be amazed." ( Time)
"Witty, bright, sharp, and unexpected - as surprising a book as I've read for years. Every story is a new Heaven." (Brian Eno)

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Notations

Global

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Histoire

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Il n'y a pas encore de critique disponible pour ce titre.
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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jamie Milton Freestone
  • 11/02/2012

Astonishing fiction from a brilliant scientist

Everything about this audiobook is great. As a collection of stories Sum is unique and benefits from being written by a fiction virgin in neuroscientist David Eagleman. His work on the brain and personal responsibility, among other topics, has made him one of the most fascinating young non-fiction writers in the world. But such are his annoyingly numerous talents that he is able to produce a series of speculative shorts on the theme of the afterlife that is both artfully written and intellectually playful.The stories follow no particular stylistic or narrative tradition, which makes them free to be open-ended, thought-provoking, metaphysical aperitifs, if I can be so prolix.

Some of the scenarios dreamed up in this work will stay with you and for those who are worried, it's not overtly religious or even theistic at all really. It's kind of an agnostic's meditation on what the afterlife could be like and what we mean when we say "afterlife". I'm not at all religious and although I don't think any of the scenarios are literally possible, they are intellectually possible, inasmuch as they are primers for thinking about mortality, consciousness, time, religion, parallel universes, eternity, etc.

The cast of multiple narrators worked very well and they are all great readers, particularly the always lovely and eloquent Stephen Fry, the lachrymose Nick Cave and the sportive Emily Blunt. Eagleman himself even displays his skills as a reader on this recording ??? even more reason to resent this multitalented upstart.

Highly recommended as a fresh approach to short fiction, which works particularly well in the audiobook medium.

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Rodrigo Suguimoto
  • 14/01/2019

So much creativity!

I loved the way this book makes you create images in your head about possible scenarios of afterlife.

It's amazingly creative!

  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 04/09/2018

Mildly disappointing

There a few original stories making this audiobook worth listening to, but the book gets increasingly repetitive somewhere in the middle, as if the author started running out of ideas.

  • Global
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    3 out of 5 stars
  • G B.
  • 21/06/2018

cool stories

Some nice ideas on what an afterlife actually constitutes. I like that it's spoken by different people, I guess the ones who actually wrote the parts. They're mostly quirky and funny and have obvious hidden messages that hint at how one should look at their current life. Somewhere halfway through the book, they start to resemble each other a bit, though, in the way they are constructed.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Anonymous User
  • 27/12/2017

Simply incredible

What a profound rollercoaster to question Who you thought you were, he saved the best for last!

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Gabalunzie
  • 09/09/2017

outstanding, thought provoking

A fantastic collection of musings about the afterlife. Can't recommend enough, I challenge any thoughtful human being to to be intrigued and delighted with this book.

  • Global
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Peter
  • 22/03/2017

An odd idea, not well carried out

This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Hard to say - people with more of a taste for fantasy, maybe.

What could David Eagleman have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

Far fewer pieces, with each one much more thoroughly worked out.

Which scene was your favorite?

None

You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

Not for me - I found it thoroughly dull.

Any additional comments?

I think this was a misconceived project of Eagleman's. He lacks, in my opinion, the imaginative vision to make it work. If he had chosen a just a few of his possible scenarios of the afterlife, and worked them out at the length of a long short story, or a novella, they might have worked although I don't think Eagleman's prose style is up to it - it's too laden with adjectives and adverbs. As it is, they are just snippets of ideas. For example, the last piece, the 'reverse life' idea from death to birth has been worked by several writers I can think of, and much more stylishly. Not one of these episodes really gripped my interest, and I skipped several of them, I'm sorry to say.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Neuron
  • 25/11/2014

Thought provoking, imaginative and secular novels

If, before I actually read this book, someone said to me that I was going to read a collection of novels about the afterlife, and that I would like it, I would have laughed. I don’t believe God exists and I don’t believe in an afterlife (at least not the afterlife people usually have in mind). Moreover, I generally don’t read novels. I read books because I want to learn something about the universe, not merely for pleasure.

So why did I read this book? Well, it was short, and more importantly, it was written by David Eagleman, the neuroscientist who wrote Incognito, which, in my opinion is one of the best popular neuroscience books I have read. Because I had read Incognito I also knew that Eagleman does not have a tendency to express strange beliefs. Rather, like myself, Eagleman at least appears to subscribe to philosophical materialism, i.e. he is not a dualist. In addition, Sum, has received rave reviews, so in the end I thought what the heck, I’ll give it a try… and I am very happy that I did.

The ambition of this book is not to provide an accurate scientific account of the likely scenarios that will take place when we eventually die, rather it is a collection of entirely hypothetical stories about what could happen in the afterlife. Some of them appear more likely than others, but almost all of them are in some way entertaining and above all, they are very thought provoking. Indeed I might even go as far as to say that it has made me consider the thought of an afterlife. Again I don’t mean the kind of afterlife where the soul escapes the body and travels to a bright peaceful heaven (and I guess that I would more likely end up in hell anyway), but some other form of afterlife. For example, in one novel in this book, you live on in the sense that a computer terminal continues to produce letters from you, answer emails, send happy birthday wishes, to your kin and to others, long after you actually died. This type of afterlife is entirely possible and even with my limited skills I could probably make my own computer act as if I was alive when I am dead (whether one would want this is a different question).

Another novel that is perhaps less plausible, but not as implausible as the biblical option, is that we actually live twice. The life that everyone live now is the first life which occurs when the universe is expanding. The second life comes when (or if), the universe contracts, causing time to go in the opposite direction. In your second life you are born out of the ground like an old man or woman and everyone will be crying and speaking about everything you are going to do in your life. The relationships in which you engage will often start with a fight and then gradually become more emotional and intense until it ends in an ecstatic sexual encounter, after which you will simply forget your partner and move on… I kind of doubt whether this will happen although according to some models of the universe a contraction phase is a possibility and since time is just a dimension of space it is not inconceivable that time will move in the opposite direction. In any case, just picturing your life in reverse is an interesting thought experiment.

These are just two examples out of a total of 40 short novels describing different scenarios that play out when we die. Because they were short and thought provoking I rarely lost interest. One of my favorite novels, in this collection, describes a future where you will be able to upload an exact replica of your brain onto a computer. This computer can then run any simulation you choose. Want to live like James Bond, with fast cars, and beautiful women, and frequent near death experiences? Not a problem. You will be able to live in this matrix for as long as the computer will run. Although in this particular scenario, the scientists were wrong about the soul (they just assumed that it would tag along, but it didn’t).

In short, this is a collection of fantastic, imaginative novels, that will make you giggle and make you think.

  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Histoire
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Julie
  • 15/11/2011

Engaging Tales of What Comes Next

BRILLIANT! So thought provoking and sometimes horrifying. This collection is an absolute must and to boot it's wonderfully read

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  • Global
    5 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
  • C. Kirchhof
  • 10/12/2017

What amazing perspectives!

Ms. Anderson comes last. A table of chapters would have been nice, so as to be able to relisten the stories.

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