… then shoves his head into the Universe Simulator's blobulous appendage, which successfully resembles every gender's private parts.

Inside the Universe Simulator is, well, a universe. Clancy comets past untold planets…

… and arrives at his chosen planet, followed by a fleet of teeny heli-cameras. Clancy's mission statement: "There are beautiful, wondrous worlds inside these old simulators, full of intelligent beings with stories to tell. And I'm gonna interview them, and put my interviews online, and make a bunch of money." Clancy is an aspiring "spacecaster," see, hosting a series called The Midnight Gospel. So this is what podcasting would look like if a far-future spaceman explored the lost corners of an infinite computer.

His interview subject could be a piano-loving mage with a fishbowl head who commands a mega-yacht with a cat crew. The real interview subject is the person voicing that episode's focal character. Example: Fishbowl Man is played by Damien Echols, a member of the wrongfully imprisoned West Memphis Three. Echols guides Trussell through his philosophy of magic, while Fishbowl Man guides Clancy through a floodworld of mystic curiosity.

The audio and visual narratives clash and collaborate, revealing New Age-y expeditions into the human experience. Midnight Gospel believes in the pursuit of enlightenment. At the same time, Clancy's adventures offer a timely portrait of loneliness in a culture-soaked age. Clancy is sheltering in place far from anyone he knows, and burrowing deep into simulated worlds. Is he, like, a videogame addict? Worth remembering, maybe, that the popular conception of simulation theory is totally stupid, a neo-religious cheat code for dummies who need a reason to dismiss other people as faceless bots. Midnight Gospel takes simulation theory in a humane direction. Everyone Clancy interviews is real, or as real as he is. In this game, every non-playable character has a soul.

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