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141. 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."
142. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
Kolby Granville From the Editor
143. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 9
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144. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
From the Publisher
145. 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.
146. 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.
147. 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.
148. 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.
149. 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.
150. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
Kolby Granville From the Editor
151. 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?"
152. 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?
153. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 10
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