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1. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
From the Publisher
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2. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Saba Waheed Bugs in the Valley
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Should medicine developed through privately funded research be auctioned off to the highest bidder or distributed to those most in need? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Amaya has developed a “bug” based on a rare flower that actively finds and repairs damaged cells in the human body. Her friend, and later husband, helps her bring additional funding to the project. The important flower is quite rare and after more than a decade Amaya is unable to replicate the flower’s properties. This puts her husband, and her investors, into a difficult situation of deciding if the neediest should get access to the limited treatments available, or if it should be auctioned off to the super rich. Amaya finally cracks the code and is able to replicate the flower’s properties when she dies in a mysterious lab explosion. Her daughter, Jayde, grows up fighting against selling the limited supply of medicine to the highest bidder. Over time, Jayde grows old and dies. At her funeral the truth is revealed to her husband, the company had her killed in order to perpetuate scarcity and secure increased profits.
3. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Darcy L. Wood Animals and Origami
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Are there criminals that, regardless of age, feebleness, or level of repentance, should be denied parole? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, George Shore was convicted years earlier of numerous acts of murder, torture, and sexual assault against both adults and children. He has spent the entirety of his life in prison and passes the time doing origami. He is now quite old and feeble, and once again up for parole. His last wish, he says, is to the see the ocean before he dies. He is denied parole and opts to escape. The last we see him he is on a train to the coast to see the ocean when a young mother, and her daughter, come into his train compartment.
4. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Harman Burgess The Machine
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A review of "Newcomb’s paradox" and "Roko’s Basilisk," asks the question, it is better to help build a super AI when failure to do so might later get you punished by it? This work of philosophical short story of fiction is written as a letter to a friend. The letter writer was told about, and is now working on, a computer program that will infiltrate and merge with other computers, eventually created a singularity of a super intelligent, conscious AI. This AI, the author argues, will have mastered time travel and will naturally want to go back in time and punish anyone who failed to help it come to life. The author concludes the letter by requesting $3,000 and making clear that failure to send the money might be viewed by the future AI (if it is ever created) as a punishable response for failing to help it get built.
5. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
L. A. Shortliffe The Bridle
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Should you ask honest questions even if asking those questions will cause you to be the object of public cruelty and ostracization? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the narrator is serving a six-month punishment of “condemning.” During her punishment she must wear a gag in her mouth, and a cage over her face, whenever she leaves her house. Furthermore, all those seeing her will know her, loath her, and ridicule her. Showing the least kindness to her could put the person showing the kindness at risk. Because of her condemning, the narrator has lost her job and is forced to dig through trash cans for rotting food to eat. She has also had her children taken away from her. While we do not know what she did to deserve this punishment, it seems to have involved asking public questions, or making public statements, that were criminal within the society.
6. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
N. M. Cedeño The Wrong Side of History
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Is it appropriate to hold politicians accountable for their past votes, their past actions, and their past opinions, even if they are not reflective of them today? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Senator McCoy is 130 years old and is considered a "national treasure" for his nearly century of public service. Shortly before his retirement he is confronted by a member of an extremist organization (that supports eugenics) who have found evidence of a paper he published in college where he supports abortion. Given the modern political climate where every person is needed to build society, this information would forever stain his legacy. Senator McCoy hires a "fixer" to find and destroy the source material and preserve his legacy. However, things go wrong and the would-be blackmailer crashes the Senators party in an attempt to expose him. The Senator is nearly killed, but is finally able to enjoy an untarnished retirement legacy free from the truth of his past.
7. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Dean Gessie An Infinite Game
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What aspects of game theory and value theory get tossed out the window for pragmatism when your life is actually on the line? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the narrator is held by a mad man interested in delighting his grotesque ideas with a simple game. He has lined up four prisoners, front to back, selected for position by lottery, and intends to see how far his bayonet saw blade will penetrate. The first man in lines knows he will die, so he turns, runs, and is shot dead. Now the second man in line knows he will die. Our narrator tries to encourage the new front man to die with honor, rather than run away. Of course, his real motivation is to save his own life. While the narrator is talking to the man at the front of the line, their captor stabs the person in the back of the line, killing him. He has changed the rules, and now the game is over. "Everything" the mad man argues, "is a game." The only real question is, "can I play?"
8. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Debbie Zubrick Romani Everything but the Kitchen Sink
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What if the world simply changed around you? How would you know and accept the new reality? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Mary walks into her kitchen one morning and finds the sink has changed locations. It is literally, in a different part of the kitchen from where she remembers it the day before! Everyone else in her family says the new sink location is where it has always been. How on earth would you even move a sink overnight? There is nothing wrong with Mary. She has no mental disease. She correctly remembers the sink location the day before. It has simply moved, but she is the only one who knows it. In this new world she is also an artist and, it seems, has been a very good one for many years. What else could have changed? And how did the woman she was in her youth become the person she is discovering today?
9. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Additional Information
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10. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Kolby Granville From the Editor
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11. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
From the Publisher
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12. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
E. B. Ratcliffe Evening Star
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Which would you prefer, a gay son, or no relationship with your son at all? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Robert and Grace are high school friends. Both are bullied. Robert for his long hair and the rumor he is gay, and Grace, for her short hair, and the rumors she is too. Robert is gay, Grace is not. While preparing their midterm English performance, Robert decides he is going to use the performance as the way to finally come out to the school and tell them about the trauma he has been experiencing from his family the last several years. It does not go well as both are sent to the office, and their parents are called in. Robert escapes with his father’s gun. When Grace finds out she steals her mother’s car and goes looking for him. She finds him at a hotel. They briefly talk and the police show up. Before Grace realizes what has happened, Robert has killed himself.
13. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Alexander B. Joy Conscience Cleaners
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Should a criminal suffering from the remorse of the crime he committed be permitted to be freed of that pain? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Mr. Henmore’s was convicted of a terrible crime many years ago. He served his time, and been paroled, and is genuinely remorseful for what he did. In fact, his pain is so great, even years later, he suffers severe, almost daily, mental anguish from the knowledge of what he did. His lawyer has gone before the Grand Rectification Council to ask permission to have Mr. Henmore’s memory wiped clean of the crime he committed so as to enter his suffering. After making his case on behalf of his client, it is now up to the Council, should Mr. Henmore forever remember the horrible thing he has done?
14. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Joe Labriola The Room Above
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If society could clean the memories of a criminal, and allow them to start a new life, with new life experiences, would they have a new person? Are we more than our memories? In this work of philosophical short story of fiction, John wakes up with complete amnesia in a small white room. His roommate Jack is in the same situation, but has been in the room longer. They are gassed and when John wakes up a doctor explains to him that he was convicted of a crime and, rather than going to prison, he opted to have his memory erased, to have a new memory implanted, and to get an entirely new life. Unfortunately, in order to get a clean slate, the process from memory wipe to new life takes 18 months. John and Jack share a cell. John reads, and Jack draws. Eventually, Jack’s time is up and he disappears, ready to enter his new life. John gets a new cellmate and gets him up to speed. Eventually, John’s time is up and he is gassed a final time before starting his life as a "newborn."
15. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Deborah Serra Appreciating Hate
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Is acceptable to consume art that reflects the “depraved, the cruel, the violent, and the heartless” aspects humanity? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Felix doesn’t go for “moral relativism.” He believes there is good and evil, that art should not reflect the evil of the world, or enrich artists who are found wanting. Accordingly, Felix has gone about the lifelong process of removing all copies of the depraved art he can find, and afford to buy, in circulation. A police officer comes to his door because his sister in Arizona hasn’t heard from him in months and has asked for a wellness check. Felix explains his abundant video and book collection to the officer who is at first confused, but later begins to understand Felix’s reasoning.
16. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Laura J. Campbell The Showing
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What level of proof is required to believe in the spiritual and the afterlife? What level of proof is required for disclosure to others as material? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Mariette is a real estate agent that is informed by the seller that the house is haunted by a ghost. Mariette is prone to believing in ghosts, but feels this is information she is not required to tell a potential buyer. However, shortly thereafter, she starts getting strange static phone calls and seeing a woman from an earlier time walking the streets pushing an empty stroller. The situation comes to a head when she does some research that turns up a missing woman and child. Her phone rings again, again providing only static. By talking to the static Mariette is able to determine the sequence of events leading to the murder, and is able to set the wandering ghost free by giving it peace.
17. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Samuel Reifler How the Cockroach Lost its Voice (Children's Story)
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How do we learn from past decisions not taken and imagined futures while not holding on to the choices not taken and causing ourselves despair? In this work of philosophical short fiction, an Uncle Cockroach takes his nephew to the highest point in the land, the top of the refrigerator. From there, they overlook the larger, and beautiful home, and see the humans living in the home. The Uncle tells his nephew the humans can speak, like they do, but that they are unhappy because they have a hidden 3rd eye inside their head that allows them to see the future and the past that may happen. This causes them to dislike the present because they are always comparing it to what their 3rd eyes sees. Suddenly, an angel moth comes down and, on behalf of The Great Arachnid, is told me must forever render cockroaches speechless.
18. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
David Rose Prohibition
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How do you decide which laws are just, and which to break? How do you know when a democratic government has passed a law you are comfortable breaking? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the narrator admits he is an addict. He takes a taxi to a vacant part of town, and walks the rest of the way to his source. He knocks and enters the restaurant. Only one other patron, a woman. He orders the illegal dish to serve his addiction, a steak. With a glass of red wine he savors the illegal action of eating animal flesh. Just then the place is busted by the police. The narrator hides, but can see the police interrogating the woman and the doorman. In an effort to get information, the younger policeman begins beating the woman and accidentally kills her. The police decide to cover their tracks by throwing the woman in the back alley and making the doorman promise to never tell anyone what he saw. After the police leave, the terrified narrator slips out the back.
19. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Additional Information
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20. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Kolby Granville From the Editor
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