Welcome to Night Vale
Hosted by Cecil Baldwin, and others
Produced by Commonplace books
w2nv
“Welcome to Night Vale” a podcast that almost needs no introduction at this point.  This wildly popular program is a podcast drama formatted as bulletins from a community radio station in a small desert town.  It features notices from the town’s active secret police, a kid’s fun-fact science corner, updates on the mysterious lights in the sky and the war-like subterranean culture located beneath the local bowling alley.  And of course, the weather.  Night Vale is a weird place,  but these are just the everyday foibles you might find in any isolated community, as far as W2NV is concerned.  And that is what makes this podcast brilliant.
Written by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor, Welcome To Night Vale is not only a delightful satire of horror and weird fiction tropes, it is a clever and often heartbreaking look at tolerance and what it means to be a community.  From the bourgeoning romance between radio host Cecil and mysterious and well-coifed scientist Carlos, to the struggles of a young girl trying to fit in despite the fact that she is in fact an adult man’s detached hand, the plots of the show revolve not just around the inexplicable and the fantastic, but real human interaction, even if it is presented in completely silly ways.
At its heart, “Welcome to Night Vale” is about The Other, The Weird, amorphous Unknown that kept H. P. Lovecraft up at night.  But what the Mythos never addresses, and part of what makes it problematic today, is that one person’s incomprehensible horror is someone else’s Tuesday.  Cecil Baldwin, who plays coincidentally-named station host Cecil Palmer, recently contributed an excellent short essay about his experiences working on the project to the Queers Destroy Science Fiction Kickstarter.  The thing he really loves about the podcast, and I agree, is that in all of Night Vale’s strangeness and paranoia, the same-sex relationship between Cecil and Carlos is never even considered unusual or different from a straight one.  That’s the subtext for Welcome to Night Vale.  The things that we do not understand or find inexplicable are just life seen from a different angle.  It’s an unexpected direction, almost stealth schmaltz, but it’s the most original thing in Podcasting, and it brings a delightful little bit of weirdness and joy to my feed twice a month.  Find Welcome to Night Vale in your preferred podcatcher, or visit Commonplacebooks.com.

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