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

 

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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.

“Welcome to Night Vale” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor (Harper Perennial, 2015)


It is likely that you have heard in some way, shape or form of the podcast Welcome to Night Vale that has grown to incredible popularity over the last few years. In addition to putting up new episodes every couple weeks, the team continues to go on live tours not just across the United States, but also across the globe. While there are some overarching themes and ongoing subplots on the podcast, it can best be summed up as a wonderfully weird and random show that The Guardian says “Belongs to a particular strain of American gothic that encompasses The Twilight Zone, Stephen King and Twin Peaks, with a bit of Tremors thrown in.”

In the Welcome to Night Vale novel, there is the familiar setting and the many familiar characters listeners have come to know and love and hate and sometimes both at the same time. But there is also a coherent story being told from start to finish, which is a welcome change from the titillating randomness of the podcast. Of course, Cecil Palmer plays an important role in the novel, with some “excerpts” from his radio show after certain chapters.

Something mysterious is going on in Night Vale. Mysterious even for this town, which is saying something. Certain people in town are awaking to discover a piece of paper stuck to their hand that says “KING CITY.” When they throw the paper away, it magically appears in their hand again within moments. Whether they saturate the paper in water, burn it to ash, or tear it into tiny pieces, it just keeps coming back. And no one knows why.

Nineteen-year-old pawn shop owner Jackie Fierro is one of the “victims.” But she’s had enough with just being part of the status quo for like forever, and wants to get to the bottom of this. It will involve getting to King City. The problem is she has no idea where it is, and as far as she can recall she’s never left Night Vale, ever. She’s not even sure if she can leave the town.

For listeners who might be wondering how well this quirky podcast would get transposed into a novel, have no fear. The book is just as entertaining and addicting as the podcast, and is perhaps better in certain ways for its coherence and resolution. Two words that listeners have just come to accept rarely happens on the show, which is part of the reason they love it so.

If you’re new to Night Vale and are not sure what to start first, I’d recommend doing a few episodes of the podcast to get a feel for the show. But you could just as well read the novel and enjoy it and then feel super happy that there are a ton of episodes you get to hear and learn all about the characters you just read about.

And for the die-hard fans, you’ll want to get the audiobook because it is expertly and masterfully read by the voice of Night Vale Radio, Cecil Baldwin.

Originally written on March 23, 2016 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Welcome to Night Vale from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.