“In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been.”
That is from the back cover of David Eagleman’s Sum, subtitled “forty tales from the afterlives.” Each tale is a vignette about what happens when you die.
Eagleman is a neuroscientist, and Sum is a literary mind game. With imaginative what-ifs, he subverts familiar conceptions of life and death. Instead of a singular light in the dark, you get a light show.
It’s quirky, adventurous, and at times eloquent. It’s a virtuoso performance of thinking different. It’s also admirably brief.