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Theseus Point 

The Ship of Theseus is a philosophy riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an ancient Greek hull. This age-old thought experiment asks us to ponder: if you replace every plank of a ship over time, is it still the same ship? 

I love this metaphor because it invites us to explore what makes something itself.

If every cell in your body dies and is replaced every seven years, is it still the same body?

If every plant in your garden dies during the winter and is replace by new ones  in the spring, is it still the same garden?

Sometimes the subjects I write about infect my psyche. And after immersing myself in the narrative world of The Beam’s debut season, my mind began to orbit what felt like the inevitability of human augmentation.  

My mind wandered right into a sci-fi classic: At what juncture does our species cross the threshold from primarily organic to predominantly synthetic, and what does that mean for the essence of humanity?

Not an original question. But I started to wonder, what if we made that question more personal? What if there was actually legislation around what absolutely had to be called the Theseus Point? 

Because it seemed like a big deal, crossing over from 49% to 51%. 

This version of story is lean and simple, with a woman contemplating exchanging her aging organic leg with a bionic counterpart. Johnny and I wrote The Theseus Point to explore the threshold at which an individual becomes more synthetic than organic, prompting our character to question the essence of identity and the value of human experience in a world where the borders of nature and technology increasingly overlap. 

A single-setting narrative, with one character confronting an existential crisis handled with bureaucratic apathy. Bonnie loved this story when she read it around eight years after it was written, and we’ve expanded the short into a treatment that would be great for a feature film: 

In an era where “100 is the new 40,” thanks to biodevices that outperform human organs, Keira, a centenarian mountain climber whose passion led her to replace multiple limbs with cybernetics, faces an existential dilemma. After a life spent defying death on the world’s highest peaks, the prospect of replacing her failing natural leg and surpassing the Theseus Point — becoming more machine than human — forces her to question her identity and the essence of living. With Keira’s family divided and her daughter placing her on suicide watch out of fear that she’s suffering from “existence fatigue,” Keira chooses autonomy over augmentation, opting against further replacements and planning her hundredth birthday on Mount Shasta as her finale.

Maybe you’ll see our newer take as a movie someday, but I hope you enjoy the short story’s exploration of identity, courage, and the indomitable spirit of a woman standing at the crossroads of humanity’s next evolution. You can read it here!