In the afterlife you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. Or you may find the afterlife contains only those people whom you remember. In some afterlives you are split into all your different ages, in some you are recreated based on your credit card records, and in others you are forced to live with annoying versions of yourself that represent what you could have been.
In these wonderfully imagined tales - at once funny, wistful and unsettling - Eagleman kicks over the chessboard of traditional notions and offers us a dazzling lens through which to see ourselves here and now. His stories are rooted in science and romance and awe at our mysterious existence: a mixture of hope, love and death that cuts through human nature at innovative angles.
A light-hearted collection of ecclectic musings on the afterlife (or lack thereof). These brief views, each expressed in just a few pages, range from pithy cynicism to profound reflection on the value of your life before the hereafter.
Most have a certain level of humour, some whimsical or philosophical and others cynical. I did enjoy a few that were like a good Punch and Judy show - causing self reflection in the face of apparent absurdity. My favourite is 'Subjunctive', in which you must learn to live with all the alternative versions of 'you' that might have been.
It should be noted that many of these tales tackle issues of the nature and relationship of 'God' in our life, (and subsequent afterlife) - none of which conform to standard religious views.
Overall, the various 'afterlives' are highly immaginative. Some are intellectually amusing ideas (like the quark that is drawing our illusions of reality), others an amusing poke at aspects of the lives we live. A quick easy read, probably best taken in random small doses.
This was an utterly astounding journey into 40 places that made me sit back and exclaim "What the...?!" - each story was between 2-5 pages, and was over within minutes... but what minutes! Some of the 'afterlives' were just too wierd... but some were almost downright appealing!
The biggest problem with this book was that because the stories are numerous and brief, it's hard to say much about the book without giving away some of the 40 plots. So... I will just say this...
Overall, a great book. The stories can be read during even the briefest gaps in your day, and even if you read it twice, you can finish it the same day you started it. Great 'quick and light' reading.
Random listing from 'Books'...
The New York Sate Library. A brooding labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and spiralling staircases. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. For one night this historic building is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Swain is to compete - whether he likes it or not.
The rules are simple. Seven contestants will enter. Only one will leave. With his daughter in his arms, ... more...
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