Title: Mostly Void, Partially Stars || Authors: Joseph Fink, Jeffrey Cranor || Podcast Narrator : mostly Cecil Baldwin || Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Fiction, Horror || Publisher: Harper Perennial || Year of publication: 2016 || No. of pages: 281 || Available at Amazon, Bookdepository and Bol.com
Mostly Void, Partially Stars introduces us to Night Vale, a town in the American Southwest where every conspiracy theory is true, and to the strange but friendly people who live there. This book is a collection of episodes from Season One of the hit podcast Welcome to Night Vale, featuring an introduction by the authors, behind-the-scenes commentary, and original illustrations by Jessica Hayworth.
Welcome to Night Vale is a twice-monthly podcast in the style of community updates for the small desert town of Night Vale brought to us by the local radio announcer with the most captivating voice, Cecil Gershwin Palmer. Welcome to Night Vale features the local weather (which is usually a song by an up and coming artist), news (which is often weird and creepy), announcements from the Sheriff’s Secret Police (which never seem to make any sense) and cultural events (which often turn out to be life-threathening endeavours). Night Vale is a town where unexplainable supernatural events are commonplace and part of daily life. To the people of Night Vale everything absurd is quite mundane and everything we, the listeners, perceive as mundane turns out to be dark, weird and/or dangerous.
Listeners, we are currently fielding numerous reports that books have stopped working. It seems that all over Night Vale, books have simply ceased functioning. The scientists are studying one of the broken books to see if they can understand just what is going on here. The exact problem is currently unclear, but some of the words being used include “sparks,” “meat smell,” “biting,” and “lethal gas.” For your own safety, please do not attempt to open a book until we have more information on the nature and cause of these problems. The City Council has released only a brief statement indicating that their stance on books has not changed and that, as always, they believe that books are dangerous and inadvisable and should not be kept in private homes.
Why should you pick up this book and/or listen to the podcast?
One of the best reasons to pick up this book and the follow up The Great Glowing Coils Of The Universe is the behind-the-scenes commentary. On the surface Welcome to Night Vale appears to be just another wacky podcast with bizarre storylines, but after a few episodes you can’t help but to notice that there is a method behind the madness and what initially comes across as gibberish is actually ingenious. The behind-the-scenes commentary gives readers a glimpse of the type of creativity that cannot be manufactured because it’s homegrown. You learn that good energy, a love of storytelling and a team that is more like family might just be the secret to the succes of Welcome to Night Vale.
What are the cons?
If there has to be a con, it would be the absence of Cecil Baldwin’s voice. When you read the transcripts you can instantly tell that the storylines are skilfully crafted but you really need Cecil’s basso profundo voice to truly experience Night Vale. That is why I suggest to do what I did, stream the podcast while reading the transcript.
I don’t really consider this a con but this podcast is acquired taste. You have to really like Twin Peakish meets H.P Lovecraftian storytelling to be able to truly appreciate the stories. It also helps if you have a really odd sense of humor.
What is so remarkable about this book?
The ingenuity of the storytelling is something that takes a while to notice, because Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor make the creation of Night Vale seem effortless. When your listening to the podcast your drawn in by the matter of factly manner in which Cecil announces the unusual events in Night Vale. When you read the storylines everything registers on a very different level. It’s uncanny that after a while some of the Night Valeans almost feel like family, because you have no idea what most of them look like. They are mainly revealed through their actions. Also … it doesn’t take very long for the strange dynamics of living in Night Vale to be accepted as conventional. When you are a few episodes in you will avoid thinking about the Dog Park and it goes without saying that it’s not wise to visit the library. Although I have no desire whatsoever to live in this close knit community, I have to admit that my twice-monthly visits to Night Vale give me life!! Yep, it’s excellent world building.
Verdict = ☆☆☆☆
This book is great for aspiring writers, the behind-the-scenes info helped me find new ways to tap into creativity and to approach storytelling differently.
For those of you who are not yet familiar with the phenomenon that is Night Vale, you can start your journey here. To demonstrate what the appeal of the podcast is, I decided to include one of my favourite episodes in this post. At the time I am writing this late-on-the-bandwagon article there are 128 episodes (not counting the live shows) to choose from … The aforementioned is just to illustrate how hard finding thé episode was for me.
☆ = bad | ☆☆ = okay-ish | ☆☆☆ = fun | ☆☆☆☆ = amazing | ☆☆☆☆☆ = exceptional