Esko Bionics

Last week we wrapped up our series on Hide and Track—stories about discovering and escaping data. Together, we tracked thousands of antique newspapers, hid from exes and hunted for pot in America’s cornfields. There were awkward moments, wild moments, and straight up gross moments. And we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Our pitch calls have yielded remarkable stories, and we want to keep that ball rolling. So it’s time for the next theme.

As a refresher: These should be adventures with technology—stories that surprise and delight and make us rethink our everyday interactions with tech. These are the kinds of stories that stay with people because they get at something about humans first, and technology second. You should be able to deliver these in a few days, and while you don’t have to be the main character, a human being should be.  

(If you want to know why we’re structuring these pitch calls like this, you can learn a bit more about the logic here.)

The new theme is Addition and Subtraction, stories of humans becoming more and less and sometimes both with the help of technology.

Nobody is ever satisfied: we all want to be more (stronger, faster, smarter, better) and less (arrogant, busy, tired). And technology is often how we grasp at those improvements—alarm clocks and apps and treadmills and calendars and cars. We’re always adding here, and taking there. Chipping away and inserting.

Sometimes we have no choice in the matter—things are handed to us and wrenched away before we can even process what’s going on. Other times we add and subtract to ourselves intentionally, with glee, reservation, disdain, and confusion. But nobody ever exists in a steady state, made of the same bits and pieces as they were the day before.

Sometimes these are physical replacements: arms, legs, fingers and toes created by technology and assimilated into someone’s body. Bacteria that comes and goes in and out of your body. Parasites that take up residence, or babies that finally vacate the premises to start their lives. Or they can be stories of mental and emotional swaps: learning to think like a machine, losing your job to a computer, adding a robot to your family.

Bring us your stories of adding and subtracting, with creative interpretations welcomed and encouraged. As always, we want you to really explore and push the theme beyond the most obvious examples. Send your (short) pitches to Rose Eveleth: reveleth at theatlantic.com. We're only going to take about 20 of them, so we suggest you get them in early. By the end of the week we’ll likely have met our limit.

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