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Marooned! on Mars with Matt and Hilary
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Marooned! on Mars with Matt and Hilary

Author: Matt Hauske & Hilary Strang

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A read-along podcast exploring the world(s) of Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars Trilogy. Two humanities scholars read and discuss Kim Stanley Robinson's amazing Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, one part at a time. Utopian sci-fi fun and anti-capitalist thinking!

Matt and Hilary are humanities professors. Matt has taught cinema and media studies at DePaul University and the University of Chicago. He now lives in Maine. Hilary is the Director of the MA Program in Humanities at the University of Chicago, where she also teaches English and gender studies. Support this podcast:
51 Episodes
Again we have some technical issues, which we’ve done our best to ameliorate in post-production. For the first hour and twenty minutes or so Matt might sound not-great. Thank you for bearing with us!We talk about Bernie Sanders for a bit and wish him well, self-identifying as proud identity cultists, hopefully not alienating some of our listeners.For your convenience, here are some pointers to when we start talking about which stories in this extra-long episode of Marooned on Mars!12:30 — We finally start talking about something else besides the world sucking, namely, The Martians by Kim Stanley Robinson.Start by going back a bit to the Michel in Provence chapter.22:30 — Jackie on ZoExtremely touching story about Jackie’s relationship to her daughter, with a very sad ending.43:00 — Keeping the Flame (Nirgal)Comparing Hiroko and Phyllis, their legacies, cults or practices of remembrance around them.1:04:00 — Saving Noctis DamPseudo-Nadia story about saving a town from a hurricane with plywood - work done under conditions of necessity. Who is Stephan??1:11:00 — Big Man in LoveMatt’s version of the story: “Big Man grows a penis like an Impossible burger so he can have sex with a kelp lady.”Listener Michael drew a comparison to Ursula Le Guin’s Always Coming Home1:20:00 – Distortion break: Matt’s end becomes much more listenableDiscussion of increasing slippage between folktale and science and fact slides into discussion of language and words in…An Argument for the Deployment of All Safe Terraforming TechnologiesExperience of the body is an argument that can’t be rendered in words—the rhetoric of the ineffable.Temporal change, experience of time, temporality of riding a wave. Robinson’s “knots in time” connect to Wordsworth’s “spots in time”? Matt is looking for the terms Erfahrung and Erlebnis (he thinks…he’s probably wrong).1:41:00 — Selected Abstracts from The Journal of Aerological Studies1:49:00 — OdessaWe end with an agricultural update, especially regarding turnips and turnip greens, as well as a plug for an upcoming podcast spinoff project about the Alien franchise of movies that you can look for in a few months.Thanks for listening!Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the appRate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts!Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
DO NOT ADJUST YOUR PODCAST PLAYER. We're using a new recording scheme, so at one point, Hilary sounds like a scary robot. But we're powering through!This week, we talk about "Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars," "Salt and Fresh," and the two sections on the Martian Constitution and Charlotte Dorsa Brevia's "worknotes." First we chat about teaching and the fine arts of giving advice, and having that advice ignored, and ignoring advice. Then we get into the most important thing, which is baseball and the communities it makes. Then we talk about "Salt and Fresh," which is very cool. Then we talk about the second most important thing, which is crafting a legal framework for governing a planet, and how it would be like if we controlled the terms under which we work and had a say in the kinds of labor we do, how the products are distributed, and what gets produced. SPOILER ALERT: things would be better. Then we end with a riff on trees and how good they are, in contradistinction to the governing bodies of the city of Chicago. Trees discussed include chestnut and apple. Let's decommodify the food system by planting trees and working them communally! It's not that big an ask.Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the app, where you can also donate to the showRate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts!Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
We rejoin Roger Clayborne (no relation to Ann) and Eileen Monday as they're reunited for a climb up Olympus Mons, the tallest mountain in the solar system.A lot to talk about in this episode, including Heidegger and Sartre, Romanticism, post-Romanticism, and nature, colonialism and history, somatic experiences, misery tourism, and worlding. Way too much to summarize!Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the appRate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts!Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
Hi! We’re still figuring out how best to handle our new remote recording and figuring out sound levels, etc., so if Matt is too loud and Hilary is too quiet—sorry! This is low-effort, low-tech, labor-of-love stuff. We appreciate you bearing with us!This week we talk about two short stories, “Coyote Makes Trouble” and “Michel in Provence.” Even though they’re short, there’s tons to talk about!First, some inane chatter about stupid techno-alternatives to walking, like Segways and electric scooters. And cars. That comes out of some delight in the fact that KSR writes SF stories about hiking, which reflects his commitment to the quotidian and everyday and something that really matters.In “Coyote Makes Trouble,” we talk about Coyote’s place within the revolution, as an agent who also has to mediate between conflicting tensions within the movement. He wants to go faster than Maya, but also is not happy with the aggressive stance of the Reds, and he’s also constantly at risk of having his spy network infiltrated. Here he’s on a mission to do a banner drop. We talk about the relationship between action and strategy, violence and tactics, small demonstrations vs. large-scale revelations of power. We talk about the science-fictional quality of luxury liners and cruise ships and Coyote’s unique place in the books as someone from an entirely different place and background than the other members of the First Hundred, and we wrap up by discussing the place of laughter and joy within revolutionary movements like the ones going on today.Our discussion of “Michel in Provence” starts at about 33 minutes with a call for 800 more listeners to the show per episode so we can make enough money for Matt to buy lunch two days a week, if we run ads for mattresses.This is a lovely chapter, melancholy, but sweet and hopeful (as hopeful as Michel can be at any rate). It picks up after the events of “Michel in Antarctica,” charting a different history of human settlement of Mars. A different mission to Mars creates a different kind of Martian subject, one who’s only a tourist and can’t wait to get home. Nevertheless, Michel is beset by regret and self-recrimination, wondering what might have been. He thinks Mars might’ve been able to stand as a symbol…but we know that’s not what happened in the actually existing world of Martian settlement. It wasn’t a symbol, they didn’t exist as an emblem of togetherness. They created an actually existing system that had its own conflicts and contradictions that were certainly not harmonious. There’s also a different kind of life extension here, one that reinforces the status quo hierarchies of rich and poor. We touch on the elemental imagery that we’ve come to expect from KSR, especially in a Michel chapter, and discuss Michel’s various “projects.” Here he seems able to overcome the nostalgia that cripples him in the Mars Trilogy with regard to his beloved Provence and come to different terms with his attachment to place, or form a different attachment to Provence that we can see as hopeful (if still sad), informed by his brief time on Mars that he didn’t like. Maya, as always, helps him organize his feelings and actions around his project.Next week, “Green Mars!” It's going to be a big one, so get your Heidegger, Sartre, and Melville ready!New show motto: Expect things to get better!Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the appRate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts!Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
Matt has overcome his rural inertia long enough to finally put out this episode! Hooray! This is the first episode that Matt and Hilary have recorded remotely. As such, there are some technical difficulties that we're still working out, so please be patient. (They're very minor and you probably wouldn't even notice if I didn't mention it.)This time we discuss "Maya and Desmond," "Four Teleological Trails," and "Discovering Life."In "Maya and Desmond," Matt and Hilary talk about the way the books depict major events while at the same time giving a sense of everydayness, uneventfulness, and mundanity. We talk about the entirely different perspective this story gives us of the events of the entirety of the Mars Trilogy, as it appears to span most of the 200-or-so-year span of the original books. It makes a difference to know that Hiroko's farm crew abandons the First Hundred in Red Mars not because of Hiroko but because Maya tipped Desmond off that (essentially) the cops were coming. We talk about the way this story condenses and elides time, and the ways people find to make their own lives even in moments of revolution.In "Four Teleological Trails," Matt makes a weird connection with Edgar Allan Poe's "Man of the Crowd," probably just because anytime he reads anything with someone walking he thinks of "Man of the Crowd," but also because of the uncanny landscape that’s described, the ambiguity between nature and culture, the past and the future, the narrator's attempt to kill his parents by bringing them up Precipice Trail, and trail phantoming. We talk about haunting and discovering being flip sides of the same kind. Thanks to Listener Stever for pointing out (on the KSR Facebook fan page) that the "Dorr" who is mentioned refers to George Dorr, the driving force behind the  creation of Acadia National Park, making this story a clear reference to hiking there. This chapter explores the limits to the functionality of metaphor and seems repeatedly to undo the distinction between nature and culture.Finally, in "Discovering Life," Matt gets a dose of nostalgia for Los Angeles traffic. Another story that highlights the everydayness and mundanity of space travel, "Discovering Life" is mostly melancholy with a hopeful ending. The mundane everydayness of this chapter is just a continuation of our own crappy reality, not the utopian hopefulness of the Mars Trilogy. The future depicted here feels much more like our present, or even our past, with the 1950s remaining a touchstone of something. The NASA press conference depicted all-too-eerily resembles those of the original space missions, especially in their clear domination by men. But it also depicts a nice sense of conviviality among co-workers (rocket scientists are laborers after all), and ends with the idea to "terraform Earth instead"--a good idea!Thanks for listening, as always!Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the appRate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts!Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
Hello! We’re back in Phase Two of “Marooned! on Mars” Matt and Hilary will be discussing the short stories, essays, fragments, poems, and other literary concoctions that comprise The Martians, published in 1999. This is kind of like the apocrypha of the Mars Trilogy, things that didn’t necessarily “happen” or aren’t “canonical” to the original trilogy, but that involve the same characters and are set in the same basic world with the same basic presuppositions. M & H start by talking about the way we’ve been approaching the books in general, which must represent some synthesis of the different ways the two of us read texts. M admits to a predilection to close reading, which probably accounts at least in part for our focus on them as books populated by characters. H's approach to science fiction (M suggests) revolves more around Darko Suvin’s concept of the novum (which H has discussed a few times), so is more focused on the world created and the political-economic and social ramifications of the new thing posited by the text. This seems to have resulted in a balance of readings strategies for which no one has rescinded our PhDs, so we’re happy about that.It also sheds light on the way the Mars books engage with 19th century realism. They have characters that are worth paying attention to as characters while simultaneously giving a sense of scope, presenting an entire world that does more than never just tell a story about individual people but rather is always about a world and its possibilities.Then M goes on one of his patented pointless rambles, this time about Virginia Woolf’s To the Lighthouse. Seriously, even Matt doesn’t know what he was saying, just skip ahead. Something about rich interior life. This is all part of our collective plan to give ourselves license to be even stupider than we already are about these books, because neither of us has read The Martians before. Anyway, these stories demonstrate a kind of formal experimentation and complexity that’s really exhilarating as a reader, with wild perspective shifts (compared to what we’re used to from the Trilogy) and whole revisions of major events. Perhaps no segment of The Martians better illustrates this than MICHEL IN ANTARCTICA, the first one, which ends, hilariously, with the entire trilogy being negated! They don’t go to Mars! M & H talk about Michel's intelligence and unprofessionalism. Michel ends up arguing that the necessary characteristics for a successful member of the First Hundred are full of double binds that are just too complex to be overcome. We talk about those contradictions and the structure of feeling vis a vis the past inhabitants of Antarctica.EXPLORING FOSSIL CANYON follows a tourist expedition led by one Roger Clayborne (who?) told through the eyes of Eileen Monday. We discuss the sublime as an aesthetic tourist experience, and marvel at the idea that Mars has changed so enormously that, unlike the First Hundred, you don’t have to know anything about the planet to live on it. Eileen was born there, lived her life in a city, and has never the outback. So in a weird way she’s both Martian and alienated from Mars…wonder what that’s like? THE ARCHAEA PLOT is a delightful piece of folklore that warns us of the anaerobic revolt to come. It’s a great example of the shift in perspective this collection makes possible.THE WAY THE LAND SPOKE TO US also does extremely cool things with the sublime, voice, and perspective. We read the entirety of the flatness section and are basically rendered speechless because it’s depiction of the constant state of misperception where we find our being is so beautiful and profound. H shares a story about Big Sky Country.Listen to our friends! (But only after you listen to us!)--- Support this podcast:
Hello! We are so happy and proud to present this episode, our wide-ranging interview with the man himself!Kim Stanley Robinson, avid listener of our Kim Stanley Robinson podcast, graciously gave us some of his time during a layover at O'Hare in Chicago--hence the no doubt at times bad sound, so please forgive us. Hilary and Matt met Stan at the O'Hare Hilton bar, where we chatted over numerous topics, related and unrelated to the Mars novels. We talked about the origin of the novels, the historical moment of their creation (the so-called "end of history"), and the process of writing them.Is Hiroko dead? The answer is in the last two pages of Blue Mars!We touched on Stan's method of pattern-making beyond the conscious level of the reader, including his use of color and elemental imagery (I think there's a dissertation there for aspiring English PhDs...[don't go to grad school]), and share a chuckle over the dimwittedness of the New York Times. We talk also about the pathetic fallacy and the pre-modernist sensibility and realist tradition that informs the Mars Trilogy, and mention the structuralist influence of Gerard Genette (The Narrative Discourse: An Essay on Method). In addition we talk with Stan about his science fiction influences, inspirations, and resonances. Books mentioned are Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker and Last and First Men, Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed, Joanna Russ's The Female Man, Gene Wolfe's The Book of the Long Sun,  Julia Voznesenskaya's The Women’s Decameron, and Damon Knight, among others.We chat about Ann, and regionalism, and (self-indulgently for Matt) Orange County, the Dodgers, and the incomparable Vin Scully. All in service of the Battle of the Nutsedge!We were so thrilled to get the chance to talk with him, and we hope you enjoy this interview. (Sorry for the at times bad sound--Matt put some work into trying to get the levels right and clean it up, particularly taking out the parts where he just says "yeah" over and over. If you have complaints or can't hear it, email us at and direct them to Matt. But also don't do that.)We will be starting on The Martians very soon, and are looking forward to moving forward with you, our faithful listeners, on this exciting and fun journey through these amazing books and into the wider world of utopian science-fiction! Thanks for listening!Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmars Leave us a voicemail on the app Rate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts! Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
We’re back! Reading, talking, and listening respectfully. And sometimes swearing. Being misheard and misunderstood.We talk about student papers and Matt yammers about some of the reception studies he received, including papers about Thelma & Louise, A League of Their Own and Akira (that one’s interesting), but not for too long, just be patient or hit 15-second forward about 8 times.We chat a little bit about other science fiction things that we’ve watched and read in the meantime.THEN we talk about the future of the podcast. Some changes are in store! But for the immediate and foreseeable future it will still be KSR-centric. We’re going to have an interview with Stan, and then do The Martians, divided in larger episodes we talk about together, and solo episodes about the shorter chapters. Then probably the Three Californias. But Matt is moving to New England, not writing a science fiction trilogy, probably getting a lame job under lame capitalism. The podcast will continue, remotely, you lucky listeners!And FINALLY (after 15 minutes, for the impatient among you) we get into the FINAL chapter of Blue Mars.Hilary promised she was going to cry on the podcast—will she??? Surprises are in store…The prologue of this Ann chapter tells the story of the Third Martian Revolution, then goes into a stream of collective consciousness of different conversations bleeding into each other. The settlers’ aggression is diffused in the replay of first contact by people who have rejected the power relations of settler colonialism.History knocks on the door and the First Hundred demands a negotiated settlement between the Martian and Terran governments. Finally, this one moment in history, things don’t dissolve into violence, a mass sense of conscious recognition. These books recognize that argument, anger, and dissatisfaction are all parts of democracy, not things that can be wished away.Then the chapter proper starts with an initially ambiguous focal character, but, of course, it’s Ann. We talk a bit about why the novel ends with Ann, especially Ann in a non-Ann setting, and a non-Ann set of things for Ann to be doing. Ann and Sax getting together—is this a cliché novelistic ending, where the personal and political resolve themselves?Were the visions of John, Frank, and Arkady actually more conjunctural or contingent than the long view of the scientists Sax and Ann? Hilary doesn’t think so!Do you know what “saxifrage” means? Find out here!Ann avoids a near-death experience, thankfully. Then we read the end of the book, and it’s very emotional!Mars is now, for Ann, a scene of living together. We talk further about the children, and the horizon on Mars, its closeness, something you could reach and be present with.This podcast is HISTORY! We end on a note of mutual appreciation for each other and for YOU, the listener! We did it, and we’re gonna continue to do it, and it will be continuously cool. Go buy The Martians from a used bookstore or get it out of your library.THANK YOU!Email us at Follow us on Twitter @podcastonmars Leave us a voicemail on the app Rate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts! Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
In the penultimate chapter of the Mars Trilogy, Sax names colors with Maya, works on the memory problem at Acheron, and goes sailing with Ann--and Matt and Hilary talk about it! We talk a bit about the moments of adventure in the books, and speculate about what they're for and why they happen when they do. But mostly we have a freewheeling conversation about memory, knowledge, and longevity. We discover that, hey, isn't life the ultimate "experimental procedure?" Sax encounters Zeyk, strapped to a thingamajig that's scanning his Marilu Henner-style brain. We explore the parallels between the remaining First Hundred taking the memory treatment and a far-out drug experience. We argue over the origin of the phrase "Wherever you go, there you are" (it's Buckaroo Bonzai, not Hitchhiker's Guide, btw). There's stuff about political commitment and memory here, about not living in the past so that you can be present to the present so you can live toward the future (which is the route Maya opts for). And, of course, a great rendition of the specific variety of social maladjustment that's endemic to grad school and that makes it almost impossible for pure academics like Sax and Ann to have a relationship. Everyone's favorite characters return in this chapter! George, Roger, Mary, "Andrea"--the gang's all here! One more chapter of the Mars Trilogy! Tune in next week to hear Hilary cry and how awkwardly Matt responds to that. Thanks for listening! Email us at (While you're at it, make us some label art to replace this dumb ol' image I got off the internet) Follow us on Twitter @podcastonmars Leave us a voicemail on the app Rate and review us on iTunes or wherever you listen to your podcasts! Music by Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
Hello yes!We're (finally) back (again) with a double-stuffed, one-year anniversary episode! Here we discuss the long Maya chapter from Blue Mars, "It Goes So Fast." Ironically titled, as this is our longest episode yet and it is full of pointless diversions and digressions that will no doubt frustrate and alienate everyone! What can we say--Matt has a hard time maintaining a train of thought, and we were drinking bourbon.Our discussion of this beautiful, sad chapter starts with a consideration of other angry, bristly women in KSR novels and other utopian science fiction, particularly that of Joanna Russ, a big favorite of Hilary's. We touch on the new conceptual schemas that Sax offers Michel to understand Maya--why not throw quantum mechanics into the mix of medieval humors and see what comes out?We talk about life and history, and the appeal of theater to Maya as an adjunct to politics. We FINALLY get to talk about why no one goes to the movies on Mars, and longtime listeners will be happy to know that Matt gets it, and agrees: The Avengers sucks.Cultural assimilation, materiality and the limits of the imagination, the increasing complexity of a life lived, third-person limited perspective, analogies on analogies on's all here! Good luck sorting it out.(Hey, if anyone wants to create cool image art for us, y'know... feel free. All's I've got the time and skill for is a picture of Mars I took from a 3-second web search that I've long ago quit updating. Starting to get kinda stale!)Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comRate and review us on iTunesFollow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the Anchor app(You can donate to the show if you insist, we won't mind)Music by The Spirit of Space--- Support this podcast:
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