jeffrey cranor

REVIEW: “It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel” by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

81qpoictzilA friendly desert community where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and citizens keep disappearing, leaving behind nothing but pits of warm, scorched earth. This is the world of It Devours!: A Welcome to Night Vale Novel. Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor and based on the popular podcast, Welcome to Night ValeIt Devours! is a new page-turning mystery about science, faith, love, and belonging, set in a friendly desert community where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are commonplace parts of everyday life. It explores the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different worldviews as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

Mild spoilers may follow…

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One Town, Many Versions (Welcome to Night Vale, Year 5 review)

cover

Fanart made with the official cover for the podcast and fanart by SunnyClockwork

Season five of Welcome to Night Vale will fondly be remembered as the season that Night Vale really just went for it. It began normally enough, but by the end of the season we were in multiple timelines and realities and it was just all kinds of fun. Season five of Welcome to Night Vale finally answers the question of “Who is Huntokar?” and begins to explain some of the odd timeline occurrences throughout the series. As the barriers between alternate Night Vales begin to break down, Cecil and all of Night Vale try to grapple with their new reality. What is causing this to happen? Can it be fixed? Will things ever be the same?

Honestly, I think this season of Night Vale is probably my favorite season to date. Almost every episode is a really strong one, with a few exceptions, of course. This season continues the arc of Hiram McDaniels’ execution by introducing his sister, Hadassah McDaniels, and an array of other dragons who have come to Night Vale in order to secure the release of Hiram (as human laws should not apply to dragons, in their eyes). Unfortunately, this doesn’t exactly go as planned as Hiram breaks out of jail, his Violet head being killed by Sheriff Sam in the process. Hadassah, naturally, is enraged by this, and her and the dragons destroy much of Night Vale – but, let’s be real, how often is most of Night Vale destroyed only for it to not be destroyed again by the next episode? This is a fun plotline, but, really, all of the plotlines around Hiram are usually pretty fun, and this is no exception.

Meanwhile, Old Woman Josie’s health has continued to rapidly deteriorate. Her daughter, Alondra, reluctantly comes to town to take care of her. Throughout the first half of the season, we learn more about Old Woman Josie’s past, which makes her death later in the season all the more tragic. The worst part is how mundane it is. She doesn’t die by some odd supernatural event or anything; she just dies of old age. And it’s sad, and the episode when it happens is sad. Cecil sounds so defeated. From there on, the season follows the angels as they try to obtain legal recognition as beings from the government so they can inherit what Josie wanted to leave them. Alondra fights against this, though, as Josie left no will/nothing written stating that the angels were to get anything at all. This, too, is a fun plotline. It’s nice having the angels take a more active role in the story than they have in the past. It’s all too sad how realistic their struggle to gain recognition from the government is, and it’s a clever bit of social satire that Fink and Cranor deliver through it.

On the romance front, Cecil and Carlos finally get married!  In the 100th episode of the series, fans were surprised by an episode that featured every voiced character that had ever appeared in Night Vale all gathering together to celebrate the wedding of Cecil and Carlos. Before this episode, the series had made no hints that a marriage was imminent. No announcement of a proposal from either character, no discussion about weddings at all. It was a wonderful surprise and a wonderful episode. There’s something so pure and joyful when Cecil refers to Carlos as his husband. I just love them both so much and I’m so happy the show decided to have them get married.

The other major plotline is the resolution of the Huntokar story. Huntokar was introduced in season 1 as the god of the civilization underneath the bowling alley. As season five progressed, Huntokar kept appearing in various episodes, leading up to the revelation that the civilization underneath the bowling alley was actually an alternate Night Vale, and Huntokar was the cause of its destruction. We learn that Huntokar actually created Night Vale – and she is a God, along with the Glow Cloud, the Distant Prince, and the Woman From Italy. In 1983, when Nulogorsk underwent that nuclear test, both the US and Nulogorsk thought it was real, and blew each other up. Huntokar wanted to protect Night Vale, her creation, so she pulled it out of the timeline, and in doing so caused all the timelines in Night Vale to collapse. For years, she was able to keep Night Vale mostly balanced and okay, but after the events of the past few years, the balance was off and all the Night Vales were combining into each other and falling apart, causing all of those timeline oddities (like Cecil having a brother yet not remembering said brother). I won’t spoil how it ends, but it’s pretty rad, and I’m really interested in seeing where Night Vale goes from here.

Overall, season five of Welcome to Night Vale was awesome. Fink and Cranor really pushed the boundaries on what the show is and what it could do, and it resulted in a really strong, cohesive, and enjoyable season of this podcast. Their characters continue to be interesting and unique and fully developed, and the world building that this season underwent brought both a sense of clarity and even more mystery to the town itself. It’s really just a wonderful season of a wonderful podcast and I’m looking forward to all that will happen next season.

I give Year Five of Welcome to Night Vale five out of five wands.

REVIEW: Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

51izuxor7hlWelcome to Night Vale: A Novel is the first novel in the Night Vale series (based off the popular podcast of the same name) written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. Welcome to Night Vale: A Novel expands the universe of the podcast as we follow two women, Diane Crayton and Jackie Fierro, whose (already weird) lives get turned upside down when a man in a tan suit with a deerskin briefcase gives them both a piece of paper with the words “KING CITY” written on it. Their individual quests for answers will lead them on a journey that will change how they look at themselves, and at their families. (more…)

REVIEW: Welcome to Night Vale (season 4) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

Standing and Breathing

Fan art I made using the poster for “Ghost Stories”

As script books have only been released for the first two seasons of Welcome to Night Vale, all further reviews of the podcast itself will be based solely on the content of the podcast and the plots therein. In season four of Welcome to Night Vale, Night Vale faces a threat so terrifying that there seems to be nothing they can do to defeat it: a terribly cute beagle puppy and his army of tall, faceless strangers who only stand and breathe. Hiram McDaniels faces trials for his crimes against Mayor Cardinal, Desert Bluffs and Night Vale become one city, and all of Night Vale is under threat from one cute puppy who may not be all that he seems.

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REVIEW: Welcome to Night Vale (Season 3) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

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      A cover for the season I made using fanart

As script books have only been released for the first two seasons of Welcome to Night Vale, all further reviews of the podcast itself will be based solely on the content of the podcast and the plots therein. In season three of Welcome to Night Vale, Cecil deals with the stress put on his relationship with Carlos by Carlos being trapped in a desert otherworld and the fear and anger that comes from being used against his will to repeatedly save Mayor Dana Cardinal. Who bought Lot 37 and is controlling Cecil? Who keeps attacking the mayor? When will Carlos come home?  (more…)

REVIEW: The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe (Welcome to Night Vale, Episodes #2) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

51pbspam99lThe Great Glowing Coils of the Universe is the second volume featuring scripts from the podcast Welcome to Night Vale. Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe contains the scripts from the podcast’s second season, as well as the live show The Debate, along with an introduction by Maureen Johnson, illustrations by Jessica Hayworth, and introductions to each episode by various members of the cast and crew. In The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe, Night Vale faces a takeover by a totalitarian corporation that threatens to forever change the town and everyone in it. Like the previous review, this review will be in two parts; the first part will discuss the book itself while the second part discusses the content of the season.
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REVIEW: Mostly Void, Partially Stars (Welcome to Night Vale, Episodes Volume 1) by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor

414sdbffdalMostly Void, Partially Stars is a collection of the first year’s worth of scripts (and the script of the first live show Condos) from the podcast Welcome to Night Vale written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor. In addition to the scripts, Mostly Void, Partially Stars contains introductions to every episode featuring behind the scenes tidbits such as the inspiration for the episode or how it was put together. In Mostly Void, Partially Stars, readers are introduced to the town of Night Vale and Cecil Palmer, the host of the local community radio station’s news show. As the story begins, a new scientist, named Carlos, arrives into town, sparking interest from Cecil. Coinciding with this event is the discovery of a civilization underneath one of the lanes in the bowling alley. As the year goes on, these plot threads will collide in a major way. This review will be in two parts; the first reviewing the book itself, the second reviewing the content of the scripts and the first year of the podcast as a whole. (more…)

Review: All Hail (Welcome to Night Vale – Live)

all hail

                      All Hail tour poster

Welcome to Night Vale‘s latest live show is All Hail, a tale about the one and only Mighty Glow Cloud (all hail). All Hail played the Carolina Theatre in Durham on April 14, 2017, and I had the chance to attend the show. It was my first ever Night Vale live show, and it couldn’t have been a better first experience. The atmosphere of the event was one of a large community; everyone had gathered there to see and participate in this theatrical event. There were people of all genders, races, and sexualities there and everyone was immediately accepted. People dressed up in costumes: there were Ericas (angels), Hooded Figures, Cecil’s and Carlos’s, and – my personal favorite – one person dressed up as Fey, the computer that read the numbers for the numbers station in episode 42 of the podcast. This is what greeted me as I arrived at the theatre; I hadn’t even entered it yet! Everyone was gathered outside in a waiting area and you could see all the costumes on display and everyone socializing and meeting new people. It was a beautiful moment. And then the doors opened.

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REVIEW: Welcome to Night Vale Episode 106 – Filings

night vale 106I’m going to start reviewing/recapping episodes of Night Vale on this blog mostly as a way for me to remember things that have happened in earlier episodes and have an easy way to reference them when a future episode makes a callback to an earlier one. As such, these recaps will always contain spoilers for the episode it’s reviewing. In this episode, entitled Filings, the angels go to the hall of records to register as real beings and some odd things happen as a result. It’s a pretty rad episode. You’ll see why.  (more…)

Harper Perennial Announces "It Devours!: A Night Vale Novel" out 10/17/17

Today is a day I’ve waited for since the release of the first Welcome to Night Vale novel back in October of 2015. The second Night Vale novel has been announced! And it sounds incredible.

From 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 mystery exploring the intersections of faith and science, the growing relationship between two young people who want desperately to trust each other, and the terrifying, toothy power of the Smiling God.

Nilanjana Sikdar is an outsider to the town of Night Vale. Working for Carlos, the town’s top scientist, she relies on fact and logic as her guiding principles. But all of that is put into question when Carlos gives her a special assignment investigating a mysterious rumbling in the desert wasteland outside of town. This investigation leads her to the Joyous Congregation of the Smiling God, and to Darryl, one of its most committed members. Caught between her beliefs in the ultimate power of science and her growing attraction to Darryl, she begins to suspect the Congregation is planning a ritual that could threaten the lives of everyone in town. Nilanjana and Darryl must search for common ground between their very different world views as they are faced with the Congregation’s darkest and most terrible secret.

(more…)