Review: Mostly Void, Partially Stars (Welcome to Night Vale Episodes #1) – Joseph Fink & Jeffrey Cranor

mostly void, partially starsFrom the authors of the New York Times bestselling novel Welcome to Night Vale and the creators of the #1 international podcast of the same name, comes a collection of episodes from Season One of their hit podcast, featuring an introduction by the authors, behind-the-scenes commentary, and original illustrations.

In June of 2012, the creators of Welcome to Night Vale began airing twice-weekly podcasts. By the anniversary show a year later, the fanbase had exploded, vaulting the podcast into the #1 spot on iTunes. Since then, its popularity has grown by epic proportions, hitting more than 100 million downloads, and Night Vale has expanded to a successful live multi-cast international touring stage show and a New York Timesbestselling novel. Now the first two seasons are available as books, offering an entertaining reading experience and a valuable reference guide to past episodes.

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.

Mostly Void, Partially Stars features an introduction by creator and co-writer Joseph Fink, behind-the-scenes commentary and guest introductions by performers from the podcast and notable fans, including Cecil Baldwin (Cecil), Dylan Marron (Carlos), and Kevin R. Free (Kevin) among others. Also included is the full script from the first Welcome to Night Vale live show, Condos. Beautiful illustrations by series artist Jessica Hayworth accompany each episode.

Mostly Void, Partially Stars is an absolute must-have whether you’re a fan of the podcast or discovering for the first time the wonderful world of Night Vale. 

Rating: 4/5

And listeners: Night Vale is an ancient place, full of history and secrets, as we were reminded today. But it is also a place of the present moment, full of life, and of us. If you can hear my voice, speaking live, then you know: We are not history yet. We are happening now, How miraculous is that?

Utterly bizarre yet somehow surprisingly profound and interspersed with philosophical gems , this collection is a must for fans of the podcast. I basically read this entire thing with the gloriously deep, sonorous tones of the audio narrator, Cecil, in my head, which made for an interesting experience.

In breaking news, the sky. The earth. Life. Existence as an unchanging plain with horizons of birth and death in the faint distance. 

It’s the kind of weird that you just have to roll with – it’s all presented so matter-of-factly. You can tell the creators had a helluva lot of fun letting their imaginations run wild, but they somehow make it work. And despite ominous glowing clouds and secret government agencies and conspiracies galore, the inhabitants of this strange little town face dilemmas we too can identify with – love, loss and the existential nature of life.

And really, I think it’s appropriate that I let the genius of Night Vale speak for itself, pardon the pun:

  • The past is gone and cannot harm you anymore. And while the future is fast coming for you, it always flinches first and settles in as the gentle present. This now? This us? We can cope with that. 
  • And night falls on you too. You too have survived, survived everything up to this moment. 
  • May you, too, find love in this dark desert. May it be as permanent as the blinking lights and as comforting as the dull roar of space. 
  • And we are healing. Those of us, whoever we are, who survived. Those others of us, whoever we are, who conquered. Whoever you are now, you are home. We are home, Night Vale. 
  • We are all poetry, Night Vale. Every breath or branch or sigh before another hopeless night of uneasy slumber is itself a verse in a great poem. 
  • We are in a moment that is still falling, still volatile, and we will never be anywhere else. We will always be in that most dangerous, most exciting, most possible time of all: the now, where we can never know what shape that next moment will take. 
  • The present tense of regret is indecision.

From the weird one-liner intros that set the scene, to the hilariously solemn adverts, completely out-there news stories, the weather in the form of a song,  unspeakably beautiful conclusions and witty proverbs, Welcome to Night Vale is certainly an experience in creativity, and I’m so glad I have this collection to remind me of some of my favourite moments from the podcast.

There’s a thin, semantic line separating weird and beautiful, and that line is covered in jellyfish. 

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