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81. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Christine Seifert Survival Kit
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Can doing nothing ever be a wrong or immoral choice? Do you have a duty to keep your word even if doing so is the cause of your own unhappiness in your life? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the narrator and her husband Andy, are stuck in their car on the side of the rode waiting for a snowstorm to blow over. While in the car we learn, through flashbacks, about all the reasons the narrator is unhappy in her marriage. Her wedding was a failure. She dislikes her in-laws, and finds them to be fat, loud, vulgar, and incapable of taking on responsibility. She does not like her husband, however, as an unemployed woman with two small children, and a sense of duty to her vows, she feels an obligation to stay with him. She finds his lack of intelligence, and his lack of agency, frustrating. She feels she is the only adult in the relationship. At the end of the story she leaves the car in the snowstorm to head to the next car to see if they have extra blankets. Before she leaves, she notices that Andy has turned on the car and the tailpipe is buried in snow. She begins to dig out the snow from the tailpipe in an effort to keep her husband from dying from carbon monoxide poisoning. In the end, she decides to simply stop digging and walk to the next car, presumably, to let her husband die in what will appear like an accident.
82. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Michael Rook Give the Robot the Impossible Job!
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Are there some lessons teachers should not teach, even if they are the thing that the student most needs? Can an “education” go too far? In this work of philosophical fiction, the main character is Quinn, an AI teacher set in the distant future. It, along with other AI teachers, are tasked with educating the most difficult students with the promise of “free study.” Quinn accepts a particularly difficult student, in fact, an “impossible student” named Leticia, a young girl who is showing early, but clear, signs of growing up to be a murderer. Quinn accepts this “impossible job” because the newer AI models are being released and she is at risk of being retired as they replace her model. Quinn decides the only way to jar Leticia out of her current direction is to shame her by supporting, encouraging, and showing her the results of her murderous impulses. At first Leticia appreciates the acceptance of her anti-social behavior, even after seeing the results of death and war. In the end, Leticia changes her mind when a serial killer she admires escapes the training exercise Quinn has put him in and puts her family in real danger. Quinn will be admitted to free study.
83. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
Kolby Granville From the Editor
84. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 3
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85. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Deb Rogers Now the Leaves are Falling Fast
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In this work of philosophical short story fiction, two suburban families and their daughters (Tamara and Kate), live next door to each other. However, over time, Tamara’s parents, William and Beverly, get mixed up in a drug scheme. Things go wrong and William’s daughter, Tamara, is put in prison while their father, William, makes a deal to stay out of prison. The narrator blames them for their own daughter, Kate’s, current issues. Years later, when William is sent to hospice and the house is empty, the narrator breaks into their house to find and steal the left over money from the drug deals from time past. He plans to use the money to help his own daughter (Kate), whom he believes has a right to that money for the harm of their negative influence on their daughter.
86. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
From the Publisher
87. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Mark Braidwood Reach
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Should we know the story of the lives of those who produce the products we purchase? Do we have an obligation to only buy ethically sourced goods? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Jack Benson gives his child a prototype toy from his company as a Christmas present. When they check the toy battery compartment, they find a sad poem written in Chinese. Jack decides to fly to China and visit the factory where the toy is produced. He pays an employee to read the poem over the factory floor loudspeaker. A woman on the factory line stands up in acknowledgement, then humbly returns to her work. Later, after the shift, she slips him a book of her writings, presumably, expressing more thoughts and emotions about her life.
88. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Joanna Michal Hoyt On Our Hands
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When is “reasonable discussion” no longer an option? Under what conditions are we no longer required to listen and consider the opinions of others? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the elderly narrator has two children who are no longer speaking to each other because of the upcoming election. One child supports liberal, open immigration policies, while the other supports the populist, emotional, and charismatic leader who believes in shutting down borders. There is a rally, and a counter-rally. The two protesting groups begin to merge for a pending street conflict. To stop the conflict, the narrator walks into the street with a bag of groceries, intentionally slips, and injures herself. She is helped up by her nursing aid, Asael, and members of the two conflicting groups. The video of the groups working together goes viral, making both seem like reasonable people. The populist candidate wins the election by a narrow margin and passes his anti-immigration laws. Shortly thereafter, Asael is in a car accident, and it deported to the violent country of his birth while his legal wife and family stay in the United States. Asael is tortured and killed in his home country. The narrator regrets ever having tried to stay moderate in the discussion, and regrets her role in making the populist candidate seem reasonable.
89. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Sarah Johnson The Angel in the Juniper
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Are the pious loved by the gods because they are pious, or are they pious because they are loved by the gods?” In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Professor Adamson and the narrator discuss Euthyphro’s dilemma. The narrator is invited by her professor to follow her into the woods and to meet a reclusive revolutionary leader. The professor, and the revolutionary group, want to overthrow the government because voting rights, and other civil rights, have been severely restricted by the government. The legal ability to change the government through voting is a “near impossibility.” On her way to meet the leader, the narrator meets an angel who informs her that the future revolution will fail, and many will be hurt in the process. The angel tells the narrator she must kill her professor to help humanity. The narrator is unsure what to do and, during their walk, discusses the dilemma she is in; a practical application of Euthyphro’s dilemma. The story ends in the final moment, knife in hand, when the narrator is about to decide what she will do.
90. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Charles Williams Take-Em!
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At what point is a discussion a debate, and at what point is it undue pressure? Is all unwanted pressure a kind of manipulation and violence? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the narrator is invited by his father to go duck hunting as part of their bonding time. The narrator wants to spend time with his father, but expresses ethical concerns about hunting ducks. The father asserts hunting is a natural part of human evolution. The debate continues as the narrator decides to go on the hunt, but is undecided if he will pull the trigger. The story ends with father and son in the blind just at the moment before the narrator must decide if he is going to pull the trigger.
91. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
A. Katherine Black All Harriet's Pieces
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Is it okay to grow and harvest animals for use for human organ transplants? Should you be banned from, or required to, meet that animal that is giving its life to save yours? In this work of philosophical short fiction, the family has Harriet, a special pet pig they keep in the house. Janie, the youngest child of the house, treats Harriet as the family pet and a close friend. She confides in the pig, and reads it stories. Janie wakes up to find that Harriet (the pig) is gone. Harriet was killed so her heart could be harvested and put into Janie’s mother. After Janie’s mother comes back from the hospital, Janie is briefly left alone with her recovering mother to ponder the idea that Harriet’s heart is in her mother. Janie thinks if more of her mother’s body failed, than more of her mother would be replaced by her pig. In an effort to make her wish come true, Janie gives her mother the wrong pills and her mother dies.
92. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Kolby Granville From the Editor
93. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
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94. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 4
Shikhandin Ruddy Apes and Cannibals
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To what extent should we be accepting of a foreign culture’s morality? Is all non-voluntary meat eating a violent act? Do we have an obligation to correct what we see as the immoral behavior of others? In this work of philosophical fiction, there is a group of technology advanced people living on an island. They have already mastered space flight, and have abolish poverty, crime, and violence. They are vegetarians, except for their cannibalism. However, they only eat the meat of those who volunteer to be killed and used for food. Of course, it is an honor to be killed, and an honor to be selected to be allowed to eat the meat of those that have died. One day, a seafaring people come cross the island for the first time. The islanders have the ability to easily destroy them, but do not as they are a generally peaceful people. The seafaring people are eager to learn have a technological exchange, but are abhorred to find out about the islander’s cannibalism. An agreement is made for a trial, of sorts. The islanders agree and invite the seafaring people to the island. They participate honestly and openly in a discussion about their culture. When the trial is over the islanders see little cultural understanding has been made ask the seafaring people to leave the island. However, before they do, the seafaring people secretly steal and leave an atomic bomb on the island destroying all the cannibals, except those that are currently living among the stars.
95. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
Doc Varga Prey
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When is suicide acceptable? Are their acceptable and unacceptable reasons for suicide? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Jared has decided to enter a government program that, after 15 hours of counseling, will allow him to legally take his own life. Doctor Ansley is the top government therapist with 199 “saves” for the year. After several sessions it becomes clear that Jared has serious conviction about dying, but he also has a secret reason for his choice. Only after Doctor Ansley tricks him by giving him a fake test does he divulge his true reason for wanting to die. Jared believes the earth is feeding off of humans and has instilled, through chemical responses, our desire to stay alive so we will continue feeding it. In short, all humans are the earth’s food source and, only by becoming unattached from being alive, can we break the cycle. Jared completes the required sessions and dies. And Doctor Ansley now has questions as well.
96. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
From the Publisher
97. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
Matthew Wallace A Wold on the Bus
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What is the best way for those discriminated against to “change hearts and minds?” Should those discriminated against fight back or focus on helping others see the errors taking place? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the narrator is simply going about her life riding the bus home from work. A few stops later, a wolf gets on the bus, pays the bus ticket, and has a seat. The woman has heard about wolves and is apprehensive. At the next stop a few teenagers get on the bus. They see the wolf and immediately begin teasing it. The wolf refuses to fight back until, eventually, the narrator stands up for the wolf. The teenagers get off and the woman speaks to the wolf. Police, having been notified of a disturbance, get on the bus and begin the process of arresting the wolf based on the call received. The narrator, and the other bus patrons, stand up for the wolf and explain it was the teenagers who initiated the altercation. The police leave. The wolf explains to the narrator that if he defends himself, he will be confirming the stereotypes about wolves and that it is only through others standing up on his behalf, that opinions can change.
98. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
Viggy Hampton Grandma Ruth's UP Truck Stop
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Is a digital copy of a loved as socially valuable as the real person? Is there an advantage if being able to permanently lose the ones we love? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Rachel receives a letter while at University informing her that her Uncle Stewart has passed away. She returns to the small town for the funeral and talks with Grandma Ruth, the local restaurant owner. Grandma Ruth sets Rachel up a date, but things don’t go quite as planned. Rachel confronts Grandma Ruth and finds out that she has slowly been replacing the town citizens with robot copies in order to keeping the dying town’s population from dwindling to zero. The story ends with Grandma Ruth asking Rachel to take over the responsibility of maintaining her families, and the towns, robot population.
99. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
Tom Teti A Change of Verbs
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How much of your life is trapped in social norms? What would you say if you were free to say what you really thought? How would you live your life differently? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Simon in a married, middle aged, college professor. Inch by inch, day by day, over his life he has given up his freedom to social norms. He stays quiet in his true thoughts in the face of his wife, and his co-workers. One day, something changes, and he decides to “change his verbs.” He tells his wife what he thinks. He tells his students what he thinks. He says no to attending pointless meetings. In short, he releases himself from the social cages that he has created for himself, and he is happy. He comes home to his wife and, seemingly for the first time in years, is free to tell her honestly that he loves her.
100. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
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