INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
New Scientist JULY 1, 2009 - by Liz Else
SUM: FORTY TALES ROM THE AFTERLIFE
Forty afterlives: the thought of one is quite enough, yet as a literary conceit it is beguiling. In this collection of supershort tales, David Eagleman - neuroscientist by day, dark chronicler by night - has turned himself into a David Deutsch figure of the hereafter, but with a multi-afterverse rather than a multiverse.
Try the title story, where all your earthly experiences are reshuffled into category order: think twenty-seven hours of continuous intense pain or six days clipping your nails. My favourite, though, is "Mirrors" - the process of death will never seem the same again.
Sum has been so well received, from Philip Pullman's "terrific" to Alan Lightman's "provocative", you can smell a cult forming. There was even a staging at the Sydney Opera House last month, with an original score by Brian Eno. Eagleman will find Sum a hard act to follow.