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Marooned! on Mars with Matt and Hilary

116 EpisodesProduced by Matt Hauske & Hilary StrangWebsite

a kim stanley robinson read-along podcast with regular forays into utopia. hosted by some friends who are into communism, science fiction and other stuff

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2312 Episode 7: "Swan and the Inspector," Swan in Wonderland, Post-Scarcity Conspiracies, and the Nature of Evil

This week’s episode is the second half of our conversation from last week’s episode, and concerns the “Swan and the Inspector” chapter. Genette takes Swan on his investigation of the strange goings-on throughout the solar system, visiting several asteroids including Yggdrasil and Inner Mongolia using the Interplan starship Swift Justice. The possibility of a conspiracy or some kind of concerted plan that potentially links Alex’s death, the destruction of Terminator, the even on Io, and the catastrophe on Yggdrasil, all involving strange qube behavior, starts to materialize for Genette.

Matt and Hilary have a long discussion about the nature of conspiracy, its possibilities and limitations as a conceptual apparatus for understanding the operation of power. While conspiracies are useful in illuminating certain aspects of the way power functions, they also contain the temptation for the analyst or investigator to throw up their hands and resign oneself to a kind of existential lack of agency. In this way, conspiratorial thinking can lead one to the conclusion that “the fix is in,” which appears as the flip side of an equally irrational faith that “the system works.” One way or another, the subject is allowed to be content in their powerlessness and merely a spectator of history rather than an active participant.

We talk about the nature of “evil,” the servile will, the concept of post-scarcity, and the problem of the concept of “human nature.” We think about Swan and Genette’s interaction with regard to their social roles, i.e., artist and cop (is Genette a cop?), before descending to the uncanny valley and watching Swan in Wonderland beat up three people claiming to be qubes with human bodies. How rude!

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