Welcome to Night Vale

I have had a lot of things unexpectedly blow up my Tumblr, from ‘Pacific Rim’, to an entire fandom dedicated to sinks. The most recent to invade, however, is almost as insidious as the town it takes place in, and that’s ‘Welcome to Night Vale’, a supernatural podcast about a desert town called Night Vale and its strange goings on.

How strange? Well, there’s the ancient civilization underneath lane five at the bowling alley that is preparing to do war against the town; the dog park where dogs and humans aren’t allowed, but mysterious hooded figures are; Old Lady Josie and her angel friends that most certainly “don’t exist” but still affect the plot; transdimensional portals opened by errant sandstorms that bring with them malicious doppelgangers intent on murdering their double; and a cat floating about three feet off the ground by the sink in the radio station bathroom (which is run by monstrous and indescribable creatures locked in the station management room)…

All of which is reported by Cecil Baldwin, the community radio station reporter, who fans suspect has a third eye as he able to report on the new as it’s happening. And while Cecil doesn’t seem to think these strange goings on as particularly peculiar, his crush, Carlos the scientist, certainly does. In fact, Carlos’ quest to try and understand the mysteries of Night Vale is one of the more delightful parts of the show. And though he’s only had one episode where he had any lines, he’s quickly become a fan favorite.

Now, I’ve been saying for a long time, with the advent of podcasts actually being popular, that we may be introduced to the new future of science fiction in the form of radio plays, and I think ‘Welcome to Night Vale’ is an excellent example of that. What I thought at first was just one person on my Tumblr dashboard loving the show, turned about to be over fifteen people from unrelated fandoms, and it’s been growing steadily over the past three weeks.
This was naturally why I had to check it out. I like its take on community radio, turning the strange and mystifying into dull events as reported on someone on a local public broadcasting system. “There will be a Farmer’s Market this Saturday” turns into something like “New guidelines for the Farmer’s Market will ensure that a certain percentage of the food be real.”
In short, it’s just plain fun. It’s a simple concept, but expertly executed with a plot line that threads in and out of  the news of each week that culminates in a… well… I’m not really sure yet. The podcast is new enough that we don’t know yet!

What’s even better is that the art community that has grown up around the podcast produces some of the most fantastic and imaginative artworks. No one knows what the characters look like, so they are left to guess as best they can, and what they create is as eerie as it is beautiful.

If you’re interested in the podcast, below is the first episode. To hear more, you can subscribe here on iTunes.