I’m a big Welcome to Night Vale fan, in fact, I reviewed the Welcome to Night Vale novel on here last year. For those who don’t know what Night Vale is, I’m going to crib my own explanation from last time
“Welcome to Night Vale is a biweekly podcast presented in the form of a local community radio show, hosted by Cecil Baldwin, for the town of Night Vale, which reports on the strange events that are common in the town: hooded figures roaming the town, statements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police, a Dog Park that by law nobody is allowed to enter, a literal five-headed dragon running for mayor. The podcast is one of the most popular, successful and well-known on the internet, with a huge, loyal fanbase.”
As a fan, I bought these straight away and read both on holiday, and considering I’ve listened to all of these episodes they were a quick, easy read that reacquainted me with some of Cranor and Fink’s most beautiful lines and moments in their podcasts. And boy, do these really do have a beautiful turn of phrase; I could give an example, but they are literally all throughout the book.
These books, however, could’ve been curios. They are script books of the podcasts themselves, and if you’ve heard them, what is there to entice you? Well, cleverly, they’ve addressed that. Each episode is introduced with a short essay (1-2 pages) by the creators, or (and at times, more interestingly) by lead or even guest actors on the podcast. They illuminate a good bit of the behind the scenes of the podcast, as well as some of the inspiratations for some of the characters and setting. Both books have absolutely beautiful (and exclusive) illustrations by Welcome to Night Vale artist and alum, Jessica Hayworth, some of which would make absolutely stunning prints.
There are two books currently out.
The first, Mostly Void, Partially Stars, is subtitled ‘Episodes, Volume 1’ and covers the first year of the podcast, from Episode 1: Pilot to Episode 25: One Year Later. It also includes the script for their first live show, Condos.
The second, The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe, subtitled ‘Episodes, Volume 2’ covers the second year of the podcast from Episode 26: Faceless Old Woman to Episode 49: Old Oak Doors, and also includes the script for the live show, The Debate, which is a mayoral debate between potential candidates Hiram McDaniels (literally a five-headed dragon), The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives In Your Home and Marcus Vanston, Night Vale’s resident billionaire.
I feel, of the two books, that The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe works a little better as the show is already introduced, and the second year (as do the subsequent years) have a clearer, overall arc. That said, both are excellent, and very likely unlike anything you’ve ever read before. These books are a must-have for fans, but they’re also something that could attract new listeners, who will possibly read along with the podcast itself (note: do! It’d be a crime to not hear Cecil Baldwin bring life to these words).
A recommended introduction to the weird, wonderful and brilliantly written world of Night Vale, a strange little desert town.