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Suspension of Disbelief: Welcome to Nightvale

Content description: Flashing gif at bottom of the page (link to source definitely flashes) and use of reclaimed homophobic slur. Plus a lot of strange metaphor and a review of ‘Welcome to Nightvale’.

Well it’s exam season, a time of food, rum and tearful procrastination. If you want to skip the drunken takeaway nights and chill out after a long revision session (or procrastination session) then ‘Welcome to NIghtvale’ is for you.

As you may have guessed I’m deep within exam revision hell right now, so of course it is the perfect time to binge catch up with one of my favourite pod casts. ‘Welcome to Nightvale’ is a radio show hosted by ‘Cecil’ our queer (his sexuality isn’t defined) main character. ‘Cecil’s’ warm voice coupled with a script packed full of strange metaphor and underlying tones of vastness, of echoing past memories, of endless thought… Sorry I got a little bit too into the zone there, but you catch the drift. It’s delightfully mysterious, confusing and vaguely horrifying at times, but tempered with Cecil’s soft voice and bright personality it works incredibly well.

‘Welcome to Nightvale’ hosts a diverse cast of characters including women and LGBTQIA+ people from a variety of ethnicities. The bi monthly podcast updates us with the ongoing events in ‘Nightvale’ from Cecil’s crush on Carlos the scientist with his perfect, perfect hair to fiendish organisations and rebellions headed by a band of kindergarteners. As well as sporting a diverse cast, ‘Nightvale’ contains offensive characterisations of cultural appropriation which is regularly called out. Since the setting of ‘Nightvale’ is so strange and ambiguous, with disappearances a common occurrence and mountains objects of belief not fact. The fervent disapproval and constant calling out of offensive behaviour is refreshing, as even in this town of twisted fantasy,  what is truly awful is oppressive acts and of course believing in mountains.

I think you can tell by now, that I love ‘Nightvale’ a whole bunch. It’s an innovative and different form of storytelling which is at first confusing, but develops into gripping updates of how our favourite characters are coping in this strange little town. The set up of ‘Nightvale’ makes it utterly unpredictable, anything can happen from characters transforming completely, to portals leading to mysterious parallel deserts. One of the great aspects of this project is it brings a fresh face to the sci-fi and supernatural genres, retaining an air of strangeness whilst keeping the audience entranced by characters you become besotted with. (Carlos’ hair is truly magnificent, like a supernova lion’s mane, at least that’s how I imagine it)

Whilst ‘Nightvale’ is quirky and mysterious the pod casts follow a basic structure. An introduction by my favourite radio presenter Cecil, followed by updates from ‘Nightvale’ such as a word from our sponsors and of course the weather (*loudly raps about buses*) . This structure adds an almost realistic edge to this strange setting, which would not otherwise work so well.

I thoroughly recommend ‘Welcome to Nightvale’, it’s inclusive, it’s engaging and it’s just plain fun. As it only updates twice a month with relatively short episodes (30 mins long) it’s easy to keep up to date with (or binge if you forget to listen to the latest eps). I also find it strangely relaxing to listen to in the evenings when the lull of Cecil’s voice seems almost lullaby-esk.

So go discover this wonderful pod cast, free to download at: www.commonplacebooks.com
Goodnight, dear listeners, goodnight.

Image credits: http://commonplacebooks.com/



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Floatingmanatee also known as Alice, is a certified Zoologist living in Britain and has an unhealthy love of weird creatures. She's bisexual, a lover of books, TV, film and anything else that tells a story. Generally she's either angry or sad or both about the state of the world, but watching youtube videos of cute animals makes her feel better.

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1 Comment

  1. May 16, 2014 at 1:22 pm —

    Whenever I try to describe Welcome to Nightvale to people, I always say it’s a bit like A Prairie Home Companion, as written by Franz Kafka and HP Lovecraft.

    *minor spoilers*
    But even that leaves out a lot of what you’ve mentioned here: the inclusiveness the writers have made sure to weave in, from calling out the Apache tracker for his offensive dress to the relationship between Cecil and Carlos. Right down to Hiram McDaniels ambiguously-punctuated campaign slogan: “Literally a five-headed dragon[,] who cares[./?]”

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