Neuroscientist David Eagleman's new book Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives is a series of fictional explorations of the afterlife that range from downloading one's consciousness to a computer to meeting God (both male and female versions). Fans of Radio Lab on NPR may have heard him as well as a couple pieces from the book on their recent episode about the afterlife (listen to the podcast here).

Mr. Eagleman will be reading this evening at Rakestraw Books in Danville, and tomorrow at 7 p.m. at Books Inc. at Opera Plaza in SF. He spoke with SFist this week in the midst of his book tour.

SFist: How do you define "the afterlife" in Sum? Where did your fascination with ideas of the afterlife begin?

David Eagleman: When I was younger I asked a rabbi whether Jews believed in an afterlife, and, if so, what the afterlife looked like. He answered, "You ask two Jews, you'll get three opinions." I was deeply impressed by the freedom of opinion implied by that answer. I think that brief conversation was probably the seed which turned into Sum about a decade later.