“Mostly Void, Partially Stars” & “The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper Perennial, 2016)


Go here to enter the Welcome to Night Vale giveaway

For perhaps the first time in history a couple of books have been created, written and brought together for every single conceivable type of fan, but you’ll have to read to the end of this review to find out exactly how. I am talking of Mostly Void, Partially Stars and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe that collect all the episodes for season one (the former) and season two (the latter) of one of the most popular podcast shows in history. I am talking, of course, about Welcome to Night Vale, which features an astonishing number of followers and avid listeners, a bestselling novel (with the same title as the show), and a cast that seems to be continually on tour playing to sold-out shows across the globe, while still recording new episodes and releasing them every two weeks.

The last book I had that collected all the episodes for an entire season was for The X-Files, but as addictive as those books were each time they came out before the airing of the new season, the Welcome to Night Vale collections are just as addictive and perhaps more important, for they feature more material. In addition to the complete scripts for every episode of the season, there is bonus material, such as some awesome illustrations that sometimes relate to the current episode being read and sometimes not. The reader can choose to study the image and forget about the haunting soullessness of say the Glow Cloud (ALL HAIL THE GLOW CLOUD!) and lose themselves in the detail of the shocking artwork, or perhaps be terrified by the graphic detail of the illustrations that they immediately go back to reading the script.

Mostly Void, Partially Stars features an introduction by bestselling author and awesome tech-nerd (Boing Boing) Cory Doctorow. A contents list for each episode, providing handy referencing. As well as the script for the live show “Condos.” The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe features an introduction by author and Night Vale contributor Maureen Johnson, as well as the bonus script to the live show “The Debate.” Both volumes feature a piece from the creator of all the awesome music for Welcome to Night Vale, Disparition, as well as all the artists featured on “the weather” segment of the podcast. The other really awesome thing about both books is that they feature intros to each episode. The majority are written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, while others are written by Cecil Baldwin (the voice of Night Vale) and many of the other cast members, guest stars and guest writers for the podcast. The intros provide a back story, a history and/or an insight into a specific episode, or just an entertaining anecdote.

Good you’ve made it this far. So if you’re reading this it means you are familiar in some way to the podcast Welcome to Night Vale, and you may be wondering (though if you’ve read this review fully I don’t really see how) how these books will benefit you. Well, you will likely satisfy one of the categories listed below which each, in turn, explain why you need these crucial Night Vale volumes.

1) You’re a die hard fan of Welcome to Night Vale: You’ve listened to every episode multiple times, you’ve been to many live shows, and you know everything there is to know about the characters. But sometimes you don’t have the option of listening to a particular episode or remembering a particular phrase from the middle of an obscure episode. These books are the tools to accomplish this. You can find that episode and read that phrase in an instant!

2) You’re kind of a fan of the show but haven’t heard everything: So you missed a few episodes here and there, especially in the first couple of seasons. No problem. Just start with Mostly Void, Partially Stars and you can find those “lost episodes” and read them in less than five minutes and get all caught up.

3) This is the first time you’re hearing of Welcome to Night Vale: Firstly, welcome. You’ve made the right choice. Secondly, you now have the option of listening to many many hours of this awesome show, but that takes a lot of time you might not have, especially if you heard the Night Vale cast is coming to a city near you next week and your friend just bought you a ticket and you need to get caught up fast! Well, these two volumes can be digested in record time and then you’ll have a fruitful lexicon for seasons one and two of the show. However, I’d recommend listening to the first episode or two, no, not to boost their download numbers, Night Vale has already broken a lot of records in that regard, but to acclimate yourself to the show and to familiarize you with the deep, baritonally-comforting emanances of the shows narrator, one Cecil Palmer. After that you’ll be able to read each episode from the book with his wondrous voice solidly fixed in your head, equal to a narration by Morgan Freeman or Sir David Attenborough. Now, sit back, relax, and enjoy the wonder that is Welcome to Night Vale.

Originally written on September 5, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To help support BookBanter and purchase a copy of Mostly Void, Partially Stars click HERE; to purchase a copy of The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe click HERE.

“Life in the Dark:Illuminating Biodiversity in the Shadowy Haunts of Planet Earth” by Dante Fenolio (John Hopkins University Press, 2016)

Ever since we saw our first shot of the great white shark from Jaws we’ve had some animosity about the oceans and the seas of our planet. When it comes to the deep dark depths of this world, that animosity blossoms into outright fear. Just thinking about those strange, alien creatures down there in the dark deeps where things like eyes aren’t even necessary causes one to shiver uncontrollably.

Thankfully, there’s a book called Life in the Dark where the deepnesses of the world can be experienced and enjoyed without dipping a toe in the water.

Life in the Dark is a coffee-table-sized hardcover that immediately entrances and sucks you in like an addictive thriller. The design features glossy black pages that help give a sense of the dark depths of the oceans of our planet. The pictures and photography is spectacular, with incredible detail and color. The book is also packed with information on different fish and watery wildlife from below, showing just how complicated and fascinating nature can get in an ecosystem of darkness with a pressure level that would squash an ordinary person as flat as a pancake.

Originally written on April 2, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Life in the Dark from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book News: Best Fall Books, The Human Google, Reading Will Keep You Alive & More!


The Human Google
At the New York Public Library there are those who seem to know all, referred to as the “Human Google.”

Audiobooks vs. Reading
Why listening books instead of reading them isn’t cheating for your brain.

A sweeping tale of hope and survival coming soon that’s worth the notice, from an author of color.

Best Fall Books
There’s a chill in the air and fall is coming. Here are some big reads coming this fall.

[read more . . .]

“End of Watch” by Stephen King (Scribner, 2016)

In the final volume of the Bill Hodges Trilogy, as we know with Stephen King, he’s going to be pulling out all the stops and things ain’t going to be pretty, and with a title like End of Watch, you know the ending is going to be anything but happily ever after. Retired detective now turned geriatric private dick Bill Hodges got pushed to the limit in Mr. Mercedes with a true psychopath. In Finders Keepers things took a turn in a different direction, but Hodges was still well tested. In this final showdown, unsurprisingly, it all comes back to the Mercedes Killer, where it all started, even though he’s a comatose vegetable rotting away in Room 217 of the Lakes Region Traumatic Brain Injury Clinic.

Bill Hodges gets a call from an old friend in the force to come check out a strange suicide, and brings along his partner in crime, Holly. As they learn more about the case they discover it has some strange ties to the Mercedes Massacre, but the connecting link is anything but obvious. Hodges is drawn back into the case he thought he was done with. He stopped seeing Mr. Mercedes, Brady Hartsfield, when he was told to by Holly. But it seems Brady’s not done with whatever he started and somehow even though he’s little more than a helpless body, behind his eyes, in his brain there’s something going on. There’s a power that gives him control over others. Hodges just has to figure out how and why before a lot more people get hurt. He also has an important doctor’s appointment he keeps skipping out on, because he’s pretty sure – with the intense pain in his side that’s isn’t going away – it’s bad news.

Readers may be a little disappointed with the concluding volume of the trilogy, after the fun wild ride that was Finders Keepers, that King brings it back to Brady Hartsfield. By the end of the book the story has its definite King flair, but is a little thin and simple, with the end being pretty predictable and straightforward.

Originally written on July 12, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of End of Watch from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Book News: Obama’s Summer Reading, NASA Research Library Opens For All, Kobo Announces New e-Reader & More!


Hugo Awards
The Hugo Awards were held this past Saturday and here are all the great winners, with people of color and women coming out on top.

NASA Library
NASA is making its entire research library free to the public!

Bookshop Day in UK and Ireland
After the success of independent bookstore days across the United States, the UK and Ireland are getting in on the action with their own celebrations.

Presidential Summer Reading List
President Obama has some great books on his summer reading list this year.

[read more . . .]

Book Report: Feminist Bookstores, ‘Wild Cards’ Comes To TV, ‘Stranger Things’ To Read & More!


If You’re Obsessed with Stranger Things
Here’s a specially picked reading list to satisfy your cravings.

Amazon Raided
Amazon’s offices in Japan were raided on suspicion of pressuring retailers.

A Special Kind of Bookstore
Here are the thirteen best feminist bookstores located in the US.

A Chilling Read
Learn about Fairbanks, Alaska’s best bookstore and what makes it such a great place to come in from the cold.

[read more . . .]

Putting the Novel Olague on Pause

So I’ve made the tough call to put my novel, Olague, on pause . . . I’m not going to say “on hold” or “shutting it down for the year,” because I’m hoping that might not be completely true. But I’ve made the tough call to spend the rest of the year focusing on a podcast I’m working on that will be premiering January 2017. The first season will be ten episodes long and right now I’m working on the first draft of episode five. If I get episode ten written in say November, I’ll start working on Olague again, but time is ticking by ever so fast and I want this podcast to be up and ready to go come January.

So I’ll be sad to put my growing baby away for the time being, but I’ve made some significant headway so far this year with a word count of almost 35,000 words. And I’d be lying to myself if I didn’t say I’m really excited to work more on the podcast.

So here’s hoping episode ten gets written soon!