Marooned! On Mars With Matt And Hilary



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! Become a supporter of this podcast:


  • 2312 Episode One: Attachment, Habit, Gender, and Purloined Letters

    12/07/2021 Duración: 01h29min

    In this episode we read from the first chapter after the prologue up to "Swan and Alex." First, Hilary and Matt start by discussing the work of Lauren Berlant, an eminent literary critic and feminist theorist from the University of Chicago who passed away recently. Berlant's work focuses on affect, agency, attachment, the sentimental, literature, politics, human-being, normativity, and innumerable other topics, in ways that help illuminate the questions we discuss so much: how does change happen (or not), and what does literature (or art) have to do with it? Matt and Hilary explore some of the ways Berlant's work might shed light KSR's novels. There are elements in 2312, especially around attachment and habit and gender, that Berlant's ideas may help illuminate. We discuss pieces including Cruel Optimism, "Poor Eliza," and The Queen of America Goes to Washington City. We get started talking about the novel about 37 minutes in (in case you're anxious) and talk about Swan and her relationship to herself, her ar

  • 2312 Episode Zero: "Prologue," Far-Future Posthumanism, Narrative, Gender, Habit, and Ritual

    27/06/2021 Duración: 01h13min

    We're back to reveal your desires to you! We're starting on our new season, which will focus on 2312. In this episode we talk about far-future science fiction, posthumanism, and some of the broad themes and topics this book focuses on, such as gender and sexuality, habit and ritual, art and performance. We talk a bit about how the book tends to subvert its own narrative, and narrative itself, with its tendency to ties things up in neat little bows. 2312 traffics in many narrative forms and modes, including (interplanetary) romance and the detective novel, but it's also a book about home, where to find it and how to build it. Of course, we're here with our customary digressions and non-sequiturs, including, here, one about fictional universes, authorship, Michael Mann, podcasts, and the decay of higher education. We'll be back in roughly a week to talk about a chunk of the book, duration TBD (probably 50-80 pages, if history is any indication?). We hope you join us and look forward to reading with you! This se

  • Marooned at the Movies! Escapes From New York and L.A.

    01/06/2021 Duración: 01h42min

    Matt and Hilary are joined by their boon companion Bill Hutchison to discuss John Carpenter's (identical) films ESCAPE FROM NEW YORK (1981) and ESCAPE FROM L.A. (1996). The gang talks about the concept of the prison-island-city film and 1980s science fictions of popular cinema. We get into the western qualities of the films, discuss the logics of settler colonialism and the myth of the law, and we make some breakthroughs on the big question these films pose: What makes Snake tick? At the end we share our picks for where we'd set a third ESCAPE FROM movie. Our movie episodes are very indulgent, and we're going to keep doing them occasionally! For those non-movie-lovers out there, we'll be back in a few weeks with our regularly scheduled programming, discussing KSR's 2012 novel, 2312! Until then, thanks for listening! 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! Musi

  • Shaman 8: "Shaman," Art-Making, Transmitting Knowledge, Portrait of the Shaman as a Young Man

    12/05/2021 Duración: 01h30min

    Based on Matt’s joke opening, your friendly hosts talk about JFK and JFK for the first ten minutes, so you can probably skip that to get to the good stuff, our discussion of the last chapter of Shaman, “Shaman”! Topics include social connection, the modern divisions between work and leisure, public and private, and art as a rarified form that takes place in a specific place and time. How does art figure in Loon's world? As Loon becomes the shaman, what do his paintings mean for him and his people? We talk about the concept of genius and the role of the shaman as a medium of knowledge, as well as the nature of mediation in contemporary technological society. We talk a lot about art, cultural transformation, newness, and memory, as well as the relationship between intimacy and knowledge (and ignorance). If you're listening to this, congratulations! You're a shaman now! Before starting another Kim Stanley Robinson book we're going to do a couple episodes on movies, including John Carpenter's Escape From L.A. (or

  • Shaman 7: "All the Worlds Meet," Anthropology, Home, Teaching, and the Bird's Eye View

    29/04/2021 Duración: 01h18min

    In this episode we discuss "All the Worlds Meet," in which Loon recuperates after his ordeal, Click haunts Thorn, Thorn dies, Loon builds a new pair of snowshoes, and the Wolf Pack begins to break up. We talk about teaching and the formation and passing on of knowledge in the context of Thorn and Heather's different teaching styles. There appears to be no such thing as intellectual property in this society--what a concept! At the eight eight, we see various people make bird's eye views of the land. Hilary talks about the loving relationship to place that would motivate you to make models of it, and the childlike fun of destroying them. We discuss the status of "home" in KSR's science fiction and the place of mourning and melancholy in building a new world. Matt says "plethora" twice and we conclude with kitty round-up! Thanks for listening! Email us at Follow us on Twitter @podcastonmars Leave us a voicemail on the app Rate and review us on iTunes or wherever you list

  • Shaman 6: "Hunted," Butt-Eating, Hermeneutics, and Barack Obama's Almonds

    14/04/2021 Duración: 01h21min

    The sixth chapter of Shaman by Kim Stanley Robinson, "Hunted," has Thorn, Click, Loon, and Elga fleeing from the northern jende people. It is an absolutely harrowing chapter in which several major taboos are violated--murder, cannibalism, and burial. Matt and Hilary talk about reading and interpreting signs, the state's monopoly on knowledge, and not romanticizing the primitive. Did Thorn kill Click? Spoiler alert: yes, obviously, c'mon. We were honored to be asked by the Seminar Co-op Bookstores to share our recommendations for an Earth Week Reading List. You can find our picks at this link, and you can also buy books for pickup or delivery (either USPS or, if you're local to Chicago, they'll bring your order to your door). Thanks for listening! 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 --- Send in a voice message:

  • Shaman 5: "Under the Ice," Metabolics, Captivity, and Thermal Abundance

    07/04/2021 Duración: 01h23min

    In this episode we discuss "Under the Ice," where Elga is kidnapped, Loon goes to rescue her, he gets captured, and Thorn and Click rescue them. A lot to discuss! Here we're introduced to the northers, or the jende as they call themselves, a northern pack that, contrary to what we might expect, live in relative luxury compared to the Wolf Pack. Though they spend 10 months of the year in winter, they subsist on fish and seals, which are plentiful. As a result they are, as Loon sees it, "rich." They have bags of fat that they use as fuel and food, a very calorie-rich society. In addition, they have domesticated wolves and rely on the labor of captive slaves. It's unclear which came first in this chicken-or-egg scenario, and we talk about that. We also have our most extended (so far) exposure to Click, who, as listener Michael suggests, might be the closest KSR comes to writing about aliens. Click is a Neanderthal with radically different capabilities than Thorn and Loon. It's a thrilling, dudes-rock chapter in

  • Shaman 3 & 4: "Elga," "The Hunger Spring," Art-Making and -Experiencing, Neanderthals, and Poor Richard's Podcast

    24/03/2021 Duración: 01h26min

    Happy (belated) birthday, Kim Stanley Robinson! Is he the author of this podcast? Hilary says, in some ways, yes. Matt says, most certainly, no! You be the judge! Anyway, it's weird to have a podcast that people listen to and seem to enjoy... This episode we talk a lot about art, making art, the experience of art, and the work (pun intended) of art. Language and communication seems to be a key theme in our discussion as well--between people, between humans and non-human persons (wolverine, Heather, and Click), and between homo sapiens and other non-homo sapiens humans (Heather and Click). We talk more about the dialectic between novelty and sameness, social organization and the place of the individual within the group in Shaman, and the patterns and diversity of experience available to pre-historic people. These chapters depict the eight eight festival, Loon's meeting Elga, and a long winter in which one member of the Wolf pack dies. At the eight eight festival, the shamans have their corroboree, and we see t

  • Shaman 1 & 2: Loon's Wander, The Wolves at Home, Abundance, Scarcity, and Life Before Capitalist Ruins

    14/03/2021 Duración: 01h26min

    [NB: We had some technical audio issues this week, especially on Matt's end. Something to do with Zoom, we presume. You probably won't notice most of them, but there's one point where Matt had to re-record himself reading a passage from the book; hopefully it won't be too jarring.] This week we discuss the first two chapters of Shaman. Matt and Hilary talk about the abundance of Loon's world in contrast to the picture of the life of early humans that capitalism tries to impose on our imagination. The world of this novel has no state or politics to speak of, no written language, no phone, no lights, no motor cars--and yet, if it's not a life of luxury, it's at least one of plenty. Although there's a division of labor, that labor does not present itself as alienated. Knowledge disciplines seem undivided--the lines between science, art, history, philosophy are not yet drawn, or are drawn very differently. Political power as we know it is absent; leadership is more about responsibility to the collective than the

  • Shaman Episode Zero: Caves, Common Life, Adventure, and Fire

    02/03/2021 Duración: 51min

    Hello! We are coming back, with a new season of discussing Kim Stanley Robinson novels! This season we'll be doing Shaman (2013), so get your copies ready and start re-reading. New episodes will hopefully be dropping starting next week. This week Matt and Hilary chat about what kind of science fiction novel Shaman is, what we're looking forward to talking about, and what we're missing, both during the pandemic and under capitalism more generally. Topics include: despair what kind of science fiction novel is this? Chauvet cave things we miss things we had already lacked common life basketball vs. crossfit immersion in the rigorous imagination of a completely different lifeway adventure, blood, starting fires with sticks gender and primitivism boy perspectives Thank you for listening and we hope to be back next week with regularly scheduled programing! Email us at Follow us on Twitter @podcastonmars Leave us a voicemail on the app Rate and review u

  • The Ministry for the Future: The Kim Stanley Robinson Interview

    28/01/2021 Duración: 02h15min

    We sit down with the one and only KSR to discuss The Ministry for the Future. Stan indulges Matt and Hilary as they ask about a wide range of questions that address topics like: technical problems of writing riddles Orwell on the radio PTSD ambiguity rule of law religion, science, and economics violence MMT "the future" Some references: The One vs. the Many by Alex Woloch, How to Blow Up a Pipeline by Andreas Malm, The Soviet Novel: History as Ritual by Katerina Clark, Penelope Fitzgerald, Joseph Conrad Lose lose lose lose lose lose lose win! We want to thank Stan again for his time, thoughts, and support! Thanks for listening! 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 --- Send in a voice message:

  • The Ministry for the Future 97-106: Promethean Authority, Invisible Revolution, Guggenmusik, No Fate, Dignity

    05/01/2021 Duración: 01h59min

    This is our last, if not best, episode concerning The Ministry for the Future. (What does the phrase “if not” mean, anyway? We’ll never know!) We talk the failurewin (or successlose) of progress. Trying things is about failing at them, there’s no such thing as fate. Need a posture of openness toward the future that’s about being willing to work, try, fail. Faith in the future, it’s not given, it doesn’t belong to someone else, or to capital. Revolution isn’t necessarily recognizable as such in the moment it’s happening, and even if you’re doing a revolution, you may have to do it again. Radical democracy, the internet of animals, the personhood of plants, the return of meaning, living in loss, building on ruins science fiction's obsession with population, the shackling of science by capitalist instrumentality, family and solidarity, dignity, connection, the fundamental mysteriousness of Being, independent of the limitations capital places on us--we talk about it all, man. And we try to reconcile ourselves to

  • The Ministry for the Future 89-96: Mourning Myths, Taking Stock, Pyrrhic Defeat, Anti-Anti-Utopia

    27/12/2020 Duración: 01h27min

    We start this episode with Matt immediately blowing out the microphone with his holiday cheer, which didn't, this year, for him, include the solstice, but he did watch The Treasure of Pancho Villa, which was good. Hilary had a fire, but missed the Great Conjunction due to clouds. In this chunk of chapters, as The Ministry for the Future begins its denouement, we discuss mourning and loss, the inevitable winding down into death, in spite of, or maybe as a part of, all the progress that's also being made. What are we mourning, and how do we suffer? What is our relationship to the present--to America, to capitalism, to progress? What is Mary's relationship to Frank--one of care, of obligation, of happenstance? How (and why) do we mourn the loss of a myth of a world that has been the cause and condition of our suffering? This is a time of stocktaking and accounting, of repair and reparation, of Pyrrhic defeat that beggars all comparison and once again demonstrates the failure of analogy while simultaneously succu

  • The Ministry for the Future 89-96: Mourning, Loss, Followers, and the Tapestry of Shit

    23/12/2020 Duración: 01h35min

    Matt and Hilary are approaching the end! As is capitalism, but that's another story. Actually, it's this story, the one they're talking about The Ministry for the Future. But whatever, this one's kind of low energy. We recount our intellectual journeys through Raymond Williams and Mike Davis and Walter Benjamin, and work on wrangling cats and sequencing the novel. We talk about loss in utopia, fables and science fiction, accidents of history, and the vicissitudes of being a herd animal. All with extreme judiciousness! 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 --- Send in a voice message:

  • The Ministry for the Future 71-75, 77: The Everything Feeling, Big Dickens Energy, and Sneezing Cats

    12/12/2020 Duración: 01h25min

    We're back! In this episode we achieve our lowest minutes-to-pages ratio yet, with 25 pages discussed in 90 minutes! Only for true KSR/ Marooned on Mars heads! We start by taking stock of some of Stan's recent interviews and some of the (glowing) reviews that have been coming out about the book, and skip forward to Chapter 85, a weirdly emotional list of organizations that are working to save the world. Then we talk about the usual: the state, the law, the market, money, sabotage, arbitrage, organization, spontaneity, the problem of spirit, religion, animals, etc. We talk about MMT vs. a Marxist critique of capitalism, the relationship of democracy and transparency, money and power, and the everything feeling. We think about what it's like when nature looks back at you and when your cat sneezes into your microphone. We ponder the riddle of history and debate the all-too-human costs of pie. Thanks for listening! Do not email us if you have any criticisms, we only accept praise and collaboration! Email us at ma

  • The Ministry for the Future 60-70: Holidays, Deferral, Bureaucrats, Judo, Narcissism, Euthanasia, Good Poop, Napoleon

    26/11/2020 Duración: 01h39min

    Happy Ritualized Ideological Food Consumption Day! Matt and Hilary start with another cheery conversation designed to indoctrinate the masses into the glorious of atomized leftism by further exposing the family form as a big mess, and conclude that November is all about bad ways to perform both the family and democracy: holidays and elections. Hilary’s big thought this week is about the utopianism of this novel existing in a state of a kind of constant deferral of resolutions. No single action Mary or anyone else takes is The Solution to all the problems, so there’s a demand to try a thing without knowing how it will come out—an opening of the future. In the book, these actions often result in nothing immediately happening, which may point to a structure of feeling we may need to get used to. This opening relies on the possibility of somehow reversing Marx’s adage describing capitalism as “all that is solid melts in air.” In The Ministry for the Future, all that is air must congeal into a solid, by drawing ca

  • The Ministry for the Future 51-59: Happiness is a Cold Glacier, I Hate LA, Democracy?

    13/11/2020 Duración: 01h37min

    One of the great things about this book is how it keeps you on your toes. Matt and Hilary do their best to keep up with its digressions and interruptions, following the flow into conversations about the state, democracy, capitalism, lizard men, and the collective joy of Pepsi commercials. For the first 24 minutes or so they despair over the election of Joe Biden and the vast political emptiness the 2020 presidential campaign seems to signify, so if you're not interested in that, skip it! But if you want to hear Jon Ossoff compared to the ghouls from THEY LIVE!, don't skip it! Then they ask you to stop listening to podcasts. THEN they talk about Crash Day: no more planes, no more cows. A big theme in this episode is the role of the state and the possibility for democratic processes to address the crisis of capitalism, and we'll talk a lot more about that in the next episode. Here, we talk about how America and India variously embody the notion of "nation." We talk about flows and dynamism, of human populations

  • The Ministry for the Future 38-50: Metabolisms of Capital, the Family Form, and Pooping Angels

    03/11/2020 Duración: 01h47min

    In a shrewd bit of counter-programming, we're releasing this episode on the day of what we're told is the most important election of our lifetimes...since the last one, and until the next one. This chunk of chapters seems occupied with a breakdown in the metabolic functioning of the lifeworld, and it asks us to shit or get off the pot. The primary science fictional technology KSR seems to be deploying in this novel is one of political economy. We touch on carbon quantitative easing, but we're more concerned with issues of circulation and metabolism. Now that capitalism seems to have reached its terminal phase, entering an apocalyptic moment, as Mike Davis has recently argued, how ought we be managing the residuum, the surplus, the effluvia of goods, and of people?  Here we're interested in the surplus, excess, remainders, containment, entrapment, enclosure, capture, and incomparability. What happens when the taps run dry? (Society.) Would it help to hijack Davos? (Unclear, but it would be hilarious.) Do

  • The Ministry for the Future 18-37: Impersonal Challenges, Charismatic Megafauna, Liberal Realism, Intention and Action

    27/10/2020 Duración: 01h41min

    In this (very long) episode we discuss roughly chapters 18-37, with a special focus on Frank. What does Frank want? Does he know? The gap between intention and action under capitalism, trapped in our subjectivity and ideology, is a focus of the first part of the ep. Then we run into the technical difficulties and pick back up to talk about the challenges this novel poses to us as a novel. If the realist novel of the 19th century focused itself through a charismatic main character with broadly heroic qualities, The Ministry for the Future is a significant departure from that. We talk about how TMftF challenges us to think beyond individuals and gives us a bigger picture of the multi-dimensional and multi-generational problems humanity will face between now and basically the rest of its existence. No charismatic megafauna are going to either save you or give you an adequate locus of your pathetic cathexis. Today, the challenge is to abandon liberal empathy as a criterion for deeming an other worthy of living an

  • The Ministry for the Future 1-17: An Exercise for the Reader

    16/10/2020 Duración: 01h33min

    We're back from the movies, ready to do our podcast old school, like a couple of old fools. We're SO EXCITED to start reading Kim Stanley Robinson's BRAND NEW novel, The Ministry for the Future! Matt has finished it, Hilary is about halfway through, so there are sort-of spoilers but not really, but you should try reading the whole book first before you start listening anyway. This book is expansive, complex, harrowing, hopeful, and above all provocative. It challenges the reader to confront the realities of our day related to the climate, our politics, morality, ethics, violent direct action, and the desire for the future that falls under the name "utopia." What is the situation that confronts us today, and what are the options available to us, today, to change it? This book is in many ways, especially its opening sections, a blunt instrument, refusing to let us escape from the seemingly intractable and overwhelming crises and catastrophes that confront us. In other ways, the book is subtle and sharp, cutting

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