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1. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
From the Publisher
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2. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
A. M. Entracte Rose-Tinted Glasses
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What do we lose when we leave childhood and become adults? Is this a good thing? Can we, at least for a moment, turn back time and see the world again as a child? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Becca and Adam are members of the Fairytale Fellowship, a group of children who can still see the magic in the world and protect the world from wrong-doing magical creatures. Becca and Adam find special glasses that allow anyone, even adults, to see the invisible magical creatures around them. They rush to get the glasses to the Fellowship, but are stopped by a Faun who steals the glasses and forces them to play a game to win the glasses back. They win the game, but valuable time has passed. Becca and Adam have aged out and experienced "The Shift" all children experience into adulthood that makes them unable to see magical things. Their worst fear has happened, they have grown up.
3. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Michael Barron Beyond Rose Street
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What is required for us to summon a new life? Are we required to leave the people in our old life behind? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Tyler and the narrator are childhood friends now in their early 20’s stuck in an out of the way, nothing, town. The narrator has a chance to go to college, but Tyler talks him out of it and they both continue to live at their parent’s houses. One day, Tyler finds a strange piece of paper with a spell that opens up a shadow portal to a "new life." They perform the spell, however, when Tyler is halfway through the portal the candle blows out and traps him half in this world, half in the other. He’s stuck. For months, the narrator visits in secret, feeding Tyler, until he is finally able to reopen the portal. When he does Tyler continues walking through to his new life, leaving the narrator behind.
4. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Geoffrey Hart Exodus
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What makes a "religious" holiday? Does the combination of ritual, culture, and family custom all merge together to create "religion?" Does it even matter if the historical basis for religious stories are false? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the spaceship computer AI wakes up a family in deep space hibernation to give them time to prepare for, and celebrate, Passover. There are many situations unique to being in space that must be overcome; determining the right time period when taking into consideration time dilation, not to mention missing ingredients for traditional foods. Also, they are short two people of the requisite ten and ask the computer AI to "convert" and serve the role of two additional Jewish people. Awkwardly, the computer reminds them that some of their traditional stories are not supported by archeological evidence. This all begs important questions about the complicated weaving of history, faith, culture, and family custom in religious ceremony.
5. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Ville V. Kokko Have a Nice Eternity™
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A modern twist on "Pascal’s Bargain" asks the question, "If you could hire a company to improve your chances of a happy eternity, why wouldn’t you do so?” In this work of philosophical short story fiction, science has discovered that people pass to an eternal place after death and, 87% of the time, that place is blissful. However, the experience you have at the moment of your death might determine if you are in the 13% that spend an eternity in trauma. That’s where "Gates Of Heaven" comes in for Pasi and Tuomi. They are considered paying the fee for a "planned death" at the "Gates Of Heaven" facility to ensure an eternity of happiness. With eternity is on the line, why would you leave the moment of your death to chance?
6. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Marin Biliškov Cruel Means, Bitter Ends
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When, if ever, is it okay to let evil win? Should all wars be fought to the bitter end, or is ending the suffering of your people more important? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the Prime Minster is a long-time military man sworn to fighting the evil aggression of the Theocratic Republic of New Anglia. The war has been going on a long time. As a military leader, he ran on the platform of ending the war in his first term. He is elected and brings his most trusted military advisors with him to office. Albert was one of those trusted advisors he brought with him. Days before a large military operation, Swift Wind, is about to take place, Albert makes a startling discovery. There is a leak in the President’s office, the Angelians know of the coming invasion. Albert rushes in to tell the Prime Minster who promptly locks him in the bathroom and tells him he is the one who is the leak. Swift Wind is meant to fail. The Prime Minster has decided that the only way to end the suffering is to lose the war.
7. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Rebecca L. Christophi In Defense of the Harvest
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What rights should prisoners on death row have to their body, or to their organs? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the narrator tells the story of his own family that lead to the law that allowed organs to be harvested from criminals (both living and after being put to death) to save the lives of the most needy. In the story, the narrator and his family have two children, the older Rupert, and the far younger Sadie. Rupert returns to live with the family and continues to show strong violent tendencies. He threatens to hurt the family and there is a plan to ask him to move out. Rupert overhears the plans, goes into a rage, and cuts out Sadie’s eyes with a knife. Later, under the new law, Sadie is provided a new set of eyes from a criminal; likely Rupert.
8. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Margaret Karmazin Prevention
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Would you murder your own child to protect his classmates? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Sharon is divorced from her husband, Karl. Karl has a new, younger wife, and she is taking care of their 17-year-old son, Ethan. Their older daughter, Haley, is off starting her own successful life. Ethan, however, is struggling with life. On a fateful day, Ethan forgets his backpack after being dropped off for school. His mother searches the laptop and finds a discussion where he, and a few others, have set a date to shoot up the school. She checks his bedroom and finds the guns described in the exchange as well as drugs. Sharon doesn’t want to risk the lives of the classmates or Haley’s future. The next morning she uses Ethan’s own drugs to spike his coffee and cause him to overdose and die. She hides his guns and the laptop that proves what he was planning to do. Her son is dead, the school is safe, and her daughter’s reputation remains untarnished for a bright future. She considers her endeavor a success.
9. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Additional Information
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10. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 11
Kolby Granville From the Editor
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11. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
From the Publisher
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12. 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.
13. 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.
14. 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.
15. 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.
16. 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.
17. 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?"
18. 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?
19. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Additional Information
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20. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Kolby Granville From the Editor
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