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1. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
From the Publisher
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2. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Shannon Frances Smith Cost of Human Life
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How do you value human life? Is there a price too high to save the life of another? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Donald is testing new AI software that will run the entire railroad system of the future. It has one final test to pass, the classic ethics dilemma, The Trolley Problem; does it pull the lever and kill one, or do nothing and allow five to die? This should be an easy solution for an unemotional machine. However, the AI decides to do nothing, and allows the five in the simulation to die. When Donald checks its programming, he finds the program has determined, after taking into account lawsuits, delayed passenger complaints, and lost revenue, that doing nothing is the more economically valuable choice. Donald is left with the problem of if, and how, to program the AI on decisions related to value human life.
3. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Henry McFarland Step Back
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Is natural always the best choice? Should humans should step in and usurp nature? Are there uniquely human experiences that should take place, even if it means greater risk? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Beth and Bob are expecting a baby. However, in this future, womb carried babies have been almost entirely replaced by the far safer “womb farms.” Beth has already decided she wants to have a natural pregnancy and carry the baby to term herself. She is shunned by others who see it as dangerous and selfish. Their neighbor, Sandy is the daughter of a Neo-Shaker family who used science to have their daughter born neuter, that is to say, without sexual organs or gender. Sex, they argue, is no longer necessary and sinful as procreation can now be handled without sex. Sandy self-identifies as female and intends to undergo a dangerous and painful procedure to add female sexual organs to her body. Beth dies during childbirth, but her baby survives. Bob and Sandy continue their friendship, and, overtime, start to fall in love. Sandy is finally scheduled for the operation, but Bob tries to talk her out of it. He has lost too many loved ones already. Sandy insists she must be made the gender to match her mental state and does the procedure.
4. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Helen De Cruz The Cave of Adventure
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Is it better to live in truth, or to live a happy lie? What if you could choose to forget past pain? In this work of choose your own adventure style philosophical short story of fiction, you are in the role of the main character, a female scientist studying the memory length of fish. While walking through the park you take an underground passage that has a new, and mysterious, offshoot passage to a cave full of fish tanks. There, you meet a child, the child you didn’t have, in the relationship that didn’t work out. The child takes you to another chamber with humans floating in water in stasis, living out their most blissful lives in their minds. You are given the choice, to join them in the tank to live out your remaining days as a successful scientist, with a loving husband, and a child or, to leave the cave, and enter the painful lonely life that lays ahead of you outside the cave.
5. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Matias Travieso-Diaz Christmas in Ushuaia
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When you get rid of the worst moments of your life, do you also get rid of yourself? Are horrible life experiences simply required? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Laz has gone to the ends of the earth, the southern tip of Argentina, to throw a diary containing all his life’s disappointments and misery into the ocean, so as to rid himself of these experiences. While dining he sits with an intriguing couple who hear the story of his life and put forth an alternative theory, that our negative experiences are necessary to form our personality. That without our negative experiences, we are left the shell of a person. Laz takes these words to heart, and decides to retain his negative life experiences.
6. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Remi Martin The Freedom Machine
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If you could have a tool always whispering in your ear the best choices, would you use it? Is being the best version of yourself the point of life? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Kiki has a problem, the computer program that continually whispers the best choices, the Infinity System, is broken. She has been using it for years and simply doing what it says. Following its advice has become second nature to her. She heads into the shop to get it looked at, and finds out it must be sent off for repairs. She will be making choices on her own for a few days. The friendly “Mastermind” service representative at the shop asks her out on a date. Without her Infinity System giving her advice, she decides to take a chance and say yes. She ends up getting drunk and sleeping with him. When she heads into the store to check to see if her Infinity System is repaired, she sees the same “Mastermind” using the same pickup lines on a new woman. She storms out. Finally, after several lost days, her repaired Infinity System is repaired and sent to her house. Now she is stuck with the final decision, will she start using it again?
7. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Jann Everard I Do So, Like Durian
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Where does racism come from? How do experiences with other cultures change our views of race? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Holly, a young teenage girl, heads into Chinatown against her mother’s wishes to visit Jon, a teenage boy, she is interested in dating. He is working at his parents’ Chinese restaurant. She has taken public transportation to Chinatown with her mother knowing, and against her mother’s wishes. Her mother has a strong bias against the area and the people. Holly gets off the bus at the wrong place and gets lost, but friendly locals direct her the right way. She is amazed by the differences in food and culture she sees all around her and ends up buying a durian. Eventually, she finds the restaurant (still carrying the durian), and finds Jon working. Jon is surprised and slightly embarrassed to see Holly and explains to her she will not like taste of the durian. Holly is warmly welcomed by one of Jon’s relatives in the restaurant who agrees to take her in the back and show her out to prepare her exotic fruit.
8. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Veronica Leigh In Love And War
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How much do you need to know about someone in order to help them? Is knowing that they need help enough? In this work of philosophical short fiction, Irene lives in Krakow, Poland in 1943 under Nazi occupation. Like everyone, she struggles to make enough money to survive. There is a frantic midnight knock at the door. Terrified, she opens the door to find a stranger that, she assumes, is part of the resistance. She lets him in and finds he is injured, and bleeding. She sews him up the best she can. She offers him sanctuary, knowing that if she is caught doing so, it is certain death. He explains he is not part of the resistance, but a Jew. She agrees to let him stay just one night. They fall asleep. When Irene wakes up, the man is gone, but has left her a heart-shaped locket in thanks. She runs out of her house, down the street, the finds him not far away. Irene coaxes the man back into her house to rest. After he is in the house, Irene weighs her options. The man is likely to die from infection of his wounds anyway. If she is found hiding him, she will be put to death. However, if she turns him into the Germans there will be a reward of much needed money. Irene puts the man to rest in the bed, leaves the house, and heads to the Gestapo Headquarters. God, she reasons, will understand.
9. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Additional Information
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10. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Kolby Granville From the Editor
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