Philosophical Stories: After Dinner Conversation

I have some good news to share—one of my short stories, An Unspeakable Life, got accepted for publication in an online magazine, After Dinner Conversation. I hear it will be coming out to subscribers on January 1st of 2022, and in the anthology possibly in September. And maybe, just maybe, a podcast discussion to follow. I hope so! I would love to be a fly on the wall for that.

What really happens when esoteric theories are applied to real people in real life situations?

I was turned on to After Dinner Conversation while rooting around through Duotrope. I searched for—you guessed it—”philosophy” and “fiction”. And BINGO! Who knew there was a publication that specialized in, well, what I like?

I’ve been enjoying the bite-sized stories. So much so that I decided to volunteer as a slush pile reader while I attempted to write a story of my own to submit. (In case you’re wondering, no, I did not evaluate my own short story.) Unfortunately, each time I came up with a premise and finished a first draft, it turned out that ‘my’ idea had already been taken by a recently-released TV show. The idea of Googling first never seems to occur to me.

Finally, I decided to mine my old short stories for material, and that’s when I saw I already had one that, after doing some minor tweaking, would seem to fit the bill. Naturally I was a bit nervous about submitting, not only for the usual reasons, but also because most of the stories in the publication are Sci-Fi, whereas mine is not. (For some reason philosophical fiction tends to come out in Sci-Fi form, though it seems to me ordinary, everyday life is chock full of sticky moral dilemmas and ethical conundrums.) That said, ADC states on the website that it’s open to all genres; all that’s required is that the story ask a philosophical question. So I took a deep breath and hit the ‘send’ button, and I’m glad I did.

I’ll keep you posted when my story comes out. Until then, if you’re reading this blog, if you like philosophy, if you like Sci-Fi, or if you’ve ever felt somehow both stupid and indignant after reading stories in The New Yorker, I think you’ll enjoy After Dinner Conversation.

Here are some discount codes:

First month free (monthly subscription): Dinner

1st Year subscription for $4.95: Happy


After Dinner Conversation believes humanity is improved by ethics and morals grounded in philosophical truth.

Philosophical truth is discovered through intentional reflection and respectful debate. In order to facilitate that process, we have created a growing series of short stories, magazine, and podcast discussions, across genres, as accessible examples of abstract ethical and philosophical ideas intended to draw out deeper discussions with friends, family, and students.


How about you? Have you ever written a philosophical short story? If not, what would you write about? If so, was it Sci-Fi?

13 thoughts on “Philosophical Stories: After Dinner Conversation

  1. Dear Tina,

    I would like to congratulate you on your most recent achievements, which hopefully, will bring you further professional engagements and recognitions.

    As for your questions, I have entertained some highly plausible dystopian scenarios with significant risks for the future of humanity. In addition, I often explore the intersections of art and science, of public and private spaces, of the cultural and the technological. Whilst I concede that technology offers enormous unexplored potential allowing emerging artists to express themselves in unprecedented ways, I do have certain concerns and caveats regarding science “reproducing” reality and artists representing it. In a special post, I have endeavoured to give a very good inkling of the kind of society that humans might be heading towards. Looking into the future, here is an entry in my sociology, philosophical anthropology and cultural history journal entitled “🎧 Facing the Noise & Music: Playgrounds for Biophobic Citizens 🏗🌁🗼“, published at https://soundeagle.wordpress.com/2013/03/02/facing-the-noise-music-playgrounds-for-biophobic-citizens/

    Pushing forward another 50 years or (much) less, we could indeed end up in the scenario as described in my said post. As you can discover in the said post, there will be plenty of far-reaching ramifications in multiple domains of human life, some of which are irreversible. Should you decide to peruse my said post, I look forward to reading your feedback there. The post takes the perspective of sociology, philosophical anthropology and cultural history.

    Happy mid-October to you!

    Yours sincerely,
    SoundEagle

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! I think I will try working on short stories and submitting them in the future, but right now I’m in the midst of finishing up my novel. I have one more round with my writing group and maybe I’ll scout out some beta readers, then…I don’t really know what to do next. I’ll have to decide whether to start submitting to publishers or publish it myself. I’ve been working on this novel for nearly ten years now and the time has come to get my act together and finally put it out there.

      How about you? Do you write short stories? I imagine you’d be good at it. Your literary/philosophical analyses are very creative and original.

      Liked by 2 people

      • Wow, that’s exciting. Everything seems to be coming together!

        I haven’t written any short stories, but I would like to start—I want to get more into fiction generally. The difficulties for me is (a) deciding what to write (b) figuring out how to condense a theme or idea into a short space. Some friends and I are trying to create a little intellectual/artistic community where we can exchange ideas and hopefully either collaborate or get feedback on our projects, so hopefully that will be a motivating factor.

        I’m glad you’ve got this going for yourself, though, being able to share your philosophical thinking to a wider audience.

        Liked by 2 people

        • That’s fantastic! I think you’ll love writing fiction, and it’s great that you’re getting into it with a community in mind. Many writers think they can do it all by themselves—the standard lonely writer in a room with a typewriter—but I’m finding out that my writing suffers if I try to go it alone. Writing is all about communication, after all, and often there’s no way to know if you’re getting your message across without feedback. I have a tendency to write talking heads (no physical description of people or location) and I tend to make people travel inexplicably through time. I have to admit, I’ve come to rely on my writing group to catch that sort of thing.

          Deciding what to write can be tricky sometimes. I find the local news to be a good source of inspiration. Often I start with some bizarre character in mind (though usually that character gets toned down once the story has taken shape). Or I’ll start with a situation. Whatever strikes me as interesting. Life will throw ideas at you when you’re looking for them.

          As for condensing, if you’re looking to condense something you’ve already written, find the conflict and focus on that. Start up a new file if you have to. If you haven’t started writing yet, don’t worry, just start.

          I took a wonderful novel writing course at a community college, and the instructor told us to just write whatever comes, don’t hold back, don’t stop to edit until you’ve reached the end of the first draft. The idea behind that is you don’t want your editorial mind interfering with the creative process. Of course, everyone has a different way of doing things, and whatever works, works. I would say go ahead and write your big idea without worrying about condensing, because in the process you might stumble onto a smaller idea/theme/scenario that fits your scope. Or that smaller theme might be sufficient to represent or hint at or point towards the bigger idea. Or maybe you start off writing a short story, but then find out you have the beginning of a novel. Or maybe you get an entirely different idea that’s better. Who knows. Sometimes I’ll start with an outline or a list, other times I’ll start with a character’s thoughts. Whatever it is, I just try to get words on the page. For me, there is no “pantser/plotter” dichotomy—I go back and forth at every stage of the process. It’s a big mess, I leave behind a graveyard of document files, but I hear that’s pretty normal.

          Anyway, whatever your process, I do think having a writing community is so important, and I think you’ll learn a lot and have loads of fun. Good luck and happy writing!

          Like

  2. Congratulations Tina!

    I find it interesting that most of the submissions are sci-fi, although not entirely surprising. A big part of sci-fi, and also fantasy to some degree, is about exploring philosophical issues. Some philosophical questions seem more approachable in a sci-fi / fantasy context. As you noted, doesn’t mean you can’t also approach them in a traditional setting, but it provides additional options.

    I have written a few philosophical short stories, all sci-fi, one of which you once critiqued for me, a story about what it takes for a mind to consider itself a subject of moral concern. (It still needs a lot of work.)

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder if maybe the deal with Sci-Fi/Fantasy and philosophy is that it allows you to take things to the extreme, which would make the idea or premise behind the story clearer.

      Had you heard of After Dinner Conversation? You might consider going through those stories and submitting something, if you’re interested in publishing. And of course, I’d be happy to take a look at anything you want some feedback on.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I think you’re right about sci-fi / fantasy. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched the show Devs, but it has an exploration of free will and determinism that would be hard to pull off outside of sci-fi.

        I hadn’t heard of After Dinner Conversation. Definitely sounds like something I need to check out. I had kind of soured on the idea of writing short stories after my deep dive into the major magazines, but it seems like a lot of new outlets have opened up in recent years, not to mention the rise of novella ebooks, all of which might mean I need to revisit it. Appreciate the offer, and I’ll keep it in mind, but I really do feel like I need to do some work on them before burdening anyone with reading them again.

        Liked by 1 person

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