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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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Blue Mars, Part 4: "Green Earth," (Post-)Colonialism, and Uncanny Hallucinations

On this episode of Marooned!, we're discussing Part 4 of Blue Mars, "Green Earth," a Nirgal chapter. Nirgal, Sax, Maya, and Michel have traveled to Earth as a Martian delegation to attempt to normalize relations to the home planet and help out where they can. Nirgal goes off on a series of disorienting and hallucinatory adventures and comes back sick!

Matt and Hilary spend some time chatting about what they've been up to since the last episode. Hilary "moderated" a "panel" at an event co-sponsored by the Chicago Humanities Festival and Humanities Without Walls as part of the MLA conference (or something). N. Katherine Hayles and Evan Selinger had a lot to say! Delightful weirdos who strangely think the humanities are important were in attendance--including the president of the MLA!

In our "Mars in Popular Culture Roundup of the Week" segment, which will doubtless be expanded to a weekly extra episode once Tom Hanks gives us a million dollars, Matt watched two Mars-related movies that were bad: Capricorn One and something on Netflix (2036: Origin Unknown). 

Then we get to the good stuff.

This chapter is hallucinatory and impressionistic, anchored in Nirgal's bodily experiences, but also full of subtle references to the history of colonialism, literature, and post-colonial thought, as we discover. Connections we make include  C.L.R. James, Frankenstein, Treasure Island, Freud, Agatha Christie, Mr. Belvedere, Jamaica Kincaid, Great Expectations, Moby-Dick, K-19: The Widowmaker, New York 2140.

Home at last, Nirgal encounters a planet that wants to kill him, where he feels most at home in zones that are out of reach of earthly life--high in the Alps on a glacier and beneath the sea, polluted and more dangerous than before. We reflect on Nirgal's perennial homelessness as a constitutive lack, which takes his experience of the overwhelming colors, heat, and moisture of Earth from the hallucinatory to the uncanny, or unheimlich in Freudian thinking. This is appropriate because he also keeps running into doppelgängers of his parents, Coyote and Hiroko.

All the while, the relation between Earth and Mars is up for debate. Hilary gives a critique of the concept of population and Malthusian logic, and makes a case for faith in people's willingness to figure out the common good in the here-and-now rather than defer decision-making to an investment in an unknowable future. People should get to live good lives while they're alive! Back to our common Arendtian refrain: why put all your faith in the future when you could work to make the present better?

Elsewhere, Matt becomes as smart as Jamaica Kincaid when he discovers that you can take the colonies away from the empire, but you can't take colonialism away from the colonizers, and he does a really bad British accent. A very fond farewell to all our listeners across the pond!

Things Hilary doesn't like: Tom Hanks, The Family Guy, Avengers: Infinity War (discussed off-mic).

Ways Matt can't identify with Nirgal: Scared of scuba diving, does not routinely wake up to find multiple strange women having sex with him.

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