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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--and friends!--read and discuss Kim Stanley Robinson's amazing Red Mars, Green Mars, and Blue Mars, one part at a time. Occasional guests! Utopian sci-fi fun and thinking! And fun!

Matt and Hilary are humanities professors. Matt has taught cinema and media studies at DePaul University and the University of Chicago, and Hilary teaches English and gender studies at the University of Chicago. Support this podcast:
46 Episodes
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 This seems to have resulted in a balance of readings strategies for which no one has rescinded our PhDs, so we’re happy about that.It also sheds light on the way the Mars books engage with 19th century realism.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:
Part Two of our discussion of Blue Mars Part 11, "Viriditas"!Last episode was about Zo. This episode is about how cool living on the other planets is, and how the politics of the solar system are congealing. We drank beers on this one, so it might be a little more scattered. Matt uses the word "grok."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:
Matt and Hilary let you into one of our planning sessions, demystifying the amazingly shallow and slapdash way we decide what to talk about. This chapter is so rich that we figured we'd have to divide it up into two episodes. This episode focuses mainly on Zo and the kind of problems we have with her and the kind of problems that she presents to us.We ask really fundamental questions that the book puts to us at this point in the narrative, including about the nature of pleasure and freedom in a world that spans the solar system and in which humans can expect to basically live forever. The big question we seek to answer across this and the next episode (which we probably don't ever answer) is, as articulated by Hilary: What do we make of the relationship between the things we’re learning about the transformations in the solar system (accelerando/ explosive diaspora) and what we learn about Zo?  We talk about our problems with Zo. Both of us didn't like Zo at all the first time we read this book, and the second time through we're discovering that we understand her a little bit better now. But we still don't like her! At the forefront of our displeasure with her is her experience of pleasure, which often seems to come at the expense of others. The way Zo treats Ann and Sax are real triggers for us here. Zo's youthful dismissal of Ann's communion with rocks, or of Sax's contemplativeness, open onto a discussion of relationships between generations. The contrast between Nirgal and Zo, set up at the end of the previous chapter, is borne out here through their genetic and spiritual lineages back to John Boone and Frank Chalmers. Zo's hedonism and adrenaline junky-ness, her interest in Nietzsche, her weird references to Keats, all of these indicate a youthful arrogance and solipsism that we find distasteful.And yet... Why shouldn't she be able to tell these old farts to fuck off?Ultimately we're presented here with a new version of the problem of what freedom is and where pleasure is found. Hilary raises the issue of the recent left's taking up of the language of morality and moralism. Matt compares Zo to the stock broker character from New York 2140, whose name he still can't remember and he's not going to go look it up because there's a cat in his lap. References: Paul Lafargue, "The Right to be Lazy." Stan was recently interviewed on The Antifada podcast (really excellent interview if you haven't heard it).Freedom (according to Matt): not feeling the need to be doing anything other than the thing that you’re doing right now.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:
In this episode we discuss Part Ten of Blue Mars, Werteswandel, a Nirgal chapter.Nirgal is running around Mars--running in circles, running from something, outside and inside himself at the same time. Running looks like a new technology on Mars, just like the new technology discussed in the prologue, of super-fast interplanetary travel. The only thing comparable is...nineteenth century train travel (thanks, Wolfgang Schivelbusch!).Nirgal (literally) runs into a society of feral hunter-gatherers, who seem like they'd fit right in at the FYRE Festival. There he meets Zo, and,'s complicated.This is one of those really short chapters where Matt and Hilary get to really dig in and be very expansive. If you're not interested in hearing our end-of-quarter conversation about teaching and corrupting the youth by opening their minds to utopian thinking (or just thinking), skip the last twenty minutes or so. But if you'd like to hear Matt's groundbreaking bumming-students-out-as-pedagogy technique, feast your ears!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:
After another unexpectedly long hiatus, Matt and Hilary are back to talk about our favorite topics--Martian and Chicagoan politics and Martian and Chicagoan weather!"Natural History" is a Sax chapter, and finds our favorite jumble of rats in a lab coat juicing himself up with crocodile DNA. Sax is radically hybrid in both body and mind, but he's also still mystified by the women in his life. To Hiroko and Ann is added the math genius Bao Shuyo, and it's hard for him to wrap his mind around the hybrid she presents to him--a woman math genius! Who knew?"What's this Bao episode doing here?" Hilary asks Matt. Matt babbles for a while and stumbles into an answer about feared loss of patriarchal dominance. Of course this chapter is also about nostalgia and the passing of time. Sax stumbles onto a project to give Mars a new moon, Pseudophobos, a talisman in the sky that will concretize a past moment and prove he has control over things once again, as Hilary puts it. This appears to be a nostalgic project that reaffirms his place in the present--does Sax want to Make Mars Great Again?We are given the amazing gift of carbon offsets, and we cross our fingers about India and Pakistan.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:
We're back, after an unexpected and unexpectedly long hiatus!This chapter finds Nirgal trying to find himself, to locate and perhaps localize himself on the planet Mars, amid the network of force relations constituted by his family, the Martian political system, the changed and changing environment, and the mythology of his own existence. Matt starts by making a joke about blackface, which is so last week. Hilary is teaching Aurora for the first time, and it's a very emotional book! It doesn't help that it's Winter Quarter at the University of Chicago, the longest and most stressful quarter there is. They also talk about the Green New Deal and how important and good and awesome it is.Then they get into it. Mars is, as predicted, working as a kind of psychological safety-valve for the people of Earth, or that's how it seems to William Fort and his crew. This chapter is about scale and scalability in many ways--how the problems of a single person, or two people, or a bunch of weird micro-micro-microorganisms no one knew existed might just amount to a hill of beans, or at least marmots, in this crazy mixed-up world(s).Nirgal is unrooted. He has a problem with Jackie raising a child alone, for some reason, but he has no problem with fleeing from any role in the official politics of Mars. He's still on the hunt for some sort of parental anchor, listening to John Boone's A.I. He runs into Coyote on a park bench.Matt and Hilary try to figure out what "the green and the white" means, or rather what it's for, what its use is. Does it make sense? To whom? What sense does it make? It seems like a conceptual framework that at least makes sense to Nirgal, kind of like a screen he can project onto. Of course it's ideological. But that just presents him with another problem: how to make that concept manifest in the world. How can he use it to organize his material reality?He becomes an ecopoet. That doesn't work out so good. But Hilary's hellebore and euphorbia seems to be making it through our harsh Chicago winter!This chapter has breathtaking landscapes seen from really cool jetgliders. Nirgal floats around the world like a dandelion spore, living in fairytale time, "looking for an image of himself." We are all just tubes of sentient worms.Then Matt and Hilary try to figure out our finances, and conclude that you should all get 5000 of your friends to give us one dollar every month. (Just kidding!!!!) (But seriously, thank you for your donations!)This, in my view, was a good episode, even though we’re both audibly yawning at various moments.Hello Australia! Stay cool!We are charismatic megafauna, and you can: Email us at maroonedonmarspodcast@gmail.comRate and review us at iTunes (or wherever)Follow us on Twitter @podcastonmarsLeave us a voicemail on the Anchor appMusic by Spirit of Space. Download their album “Extra Extra” on iTunes and Bandcamp--- Support this podcast:
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