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81. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
Additional Information
82. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
James A. Hartley Guilt-Edge Security
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How does our limited life span determine our choices and our view on the preciousness of life? How would these views change if we lived forever? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, a traveling salesman sits at the bar after a long day drinking bourbon. He is approached and cleverly pitched a new product he has discovered on a distant rim planet, Life. The product stops the aging process. The first batch is free, and the salesman returns eight years later to get into the distribution business.
83. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
David Shultz Abrama's End Game
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What does it mean to be alive? Can a computer program be sentient? What would it need to do to prove it? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Abrama is summoned to the Grand Temple by Sir Gödel. Gödel informs Abrama that he is living in a simulated world (a computer game) created by her people as a place to play in their free time. She also informs Abrama that the game is not as popular as it once was and is scheduled to be permanently turned off. It turns out Gödel is an AI researcher that was given permission to test out her AI by implanting characters like Abrama into the game. Over 100’s of versions, the AI continued to improve, and now the researcher feels an ethical obligation to tell her creations their world is coming to an end. Abrama, using this new information, organizes the AI characters in the game and starts trading virtual goods for real-life services from computer hackers that play the game. The computer hackers create computer code and sell it to Abrama. If triggered, or if the game is turned off, the code would expose top secret information to the general public. A bargain is struck, the game will continue on a closed world for the AI characters and, in exchange, the sensitive information will never be made public.
84. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 5
Kolby Granville From the Editor
85. 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.
86. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
From the Publisher
87. 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.
88. 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.
89. 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?
90. 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.
91. 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.
92. 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.
93. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Kolby Granville From the Editor
94. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 6
Additional Information
95. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
From the Publisher
96. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Garrett Davis They Got Their Show
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What does it take to forgive? Why can’t we force ourselves to forgive sooner? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Nick’s high school daughter was murdered on her way to the Blockbuster Video store in 1995. Her friend and classmate, Benjie, was found guilty of her murder. Twenty years later a Netflix true crime series interviewed the witnesses and shined a light on the case, causing it to be reexamined. After 20 years, Benjie is released from prison as innocent. Nick is an alcoholic who, for 20 years, has failed to move on from his daughter’s death and dreamed of Benjie getting the electric chair. Now, he is called to be the taxi driver that picks Benjie up from the prison. They talk, and Nick begins to find forgiveness.
97. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Fiona Ennis Claim
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Are there certain things you shouldn’t be able to insure against? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, the narrator has an eating disorder, and mental health issues. Regardless, she is a good employee at an insurance company. Just before closing, a call arrives from a good client, the local diocese who inquires about getting insurance to protect them against sexual abuse of children by priests. She takes the issue, and her concerns, to her boss who threatens to fire her if she fails to write the policy. It’s not their job to judge, he says, it’s their job to insure. A flashback shows why this point strikes so close home with the narrator. As a young child she was bullied on the school bus for being overweight. In an attempt to lose weight she started getting off the bus early to walk the last three miles home. Later, her bully accused the bus driver of touching her when they were on the bus alone together. Having come full circle, not much has changed. The narrator writes the contract, and sends it to the diocese to sign and return.
98. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Alexis Dubon Home For The Holidays
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How do you find common ground with those that believe in a vast, intricate, media conspiracy to hide the truth? In this work of philosophical short story of fiction, the narrator drives out to his parent’s house to visit them for the holidays. Much to his surprise, when his parents open the door, they are only two feet tall! He is concerned that his parents, like many in the world, have shrunk to half their size. His parents, however, are equally concerned about their son because they believe he, and others in the world, have doubled in size. The son tries to explain to his parents that they have shrunk, that is why their house, and all their belongings, seem so large. However, his parents believe he, like many others, have an altered idea of what reality is, and that they have been lied to by the media and local officials. The son continues to come year after year to visit his tiny parents, who continue to refuse that they have changed, not the world around them.
99. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Logan Thrasher Collins Mahabbah
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Would the world be better with more empathy? If so, why not simply engineer society to be more empathetic? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Jacqueline is a scientist who invents a virus that she says changes people for the better. By editing genes and changing hormone levels it makes people more empathetic and compassionate towards others. She calls it Mahabbah and she wants the help of her friend Aziz to continuing human trials and release it into the world. Aziz agrees to also test the virus and determines it does perform as advertised. After being infected, Aziz is more sympathetic, and more willing to help others. When Aziz goes to Jacqueline’s office, he finds that she is being detained and her office is being quarantined. Jacqueline gets a message to Aziz who goes to her house, gets the virus, and releases a transferable version in the airport. It works. Over the next few months wars end and world peace takes hold. Jacqueline is released from quarantine months later and meets up with Aziz, and their friendship is strengthened in a new world.
100. After Dinner Conversation: Volume > 2 > Issue: 8
Sebastian Hoyle The Ascension Review of Xebob Zebble
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How do we judge behavior in the modern day that was considered acceptable at the time it was performed, but unacceptable by modern standards? In this work of philosophical short story fiction, Xebob is waiting for his accession review. If he passes, he will be named, for life, an Interaction Guide. In that position he will hear and issue proclamations governing the appropriate behaviors of everyone on his planet. The problem is, he is a MalPar-A, and a MalPar-B has recently come forward with allegations that he Danyar’ed, and maybe even Disma’ed, a MalPar-B in his youth. Xebob knows the story is true, and he knows the story will ruin his chances in front of the accession board. While he now believes these are inappropriate actions, as a youth he had felt differently. In fact, most of society at the time felt differently. Now he is faced with the difficult question, should he allow himself to be held accountable for the actions of his youth, or lie and say the accusations are false?