A friend recommended I listen to the “Welcome to Night Vale” podcast because, as he says, “Jason Fink is this generation’s H.P. Lovecraft.” (I can hear Isaac’s retching noises from 80 miles away. Bear with me, dude.)
Having listened to a few episodes, I’d say Jason Fink is in the same group as Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, and yes, H.P. Lovecraft. That’s not necessarily a quality statement. I’m saying that what Adams is to sci-fi tropes, what Pratchett is to fantasy tropes, and what Lovecraft is to fear of the void, Fink is to local news broadcasts.
The podcast is made to sound like a radio news show reporting on the local happenings in Night Vale, a fictional town in the middle of a Southwestern US desert. One of Night Vale’s newest residents calls it “by far the most scientifically interesting community in the U.S.” For example, it is home for a short time to a Glow Cloud that threatens to incinerate anyone who acknowledges its existence. And everyone is okay with it.
My research tells me “Welcome to Night Vale” is classified as Deadpan Surrealism, Magical Realism, and Paranormal Horror. A couple of creative minds ask “What if…?” and follow that thread to its most magical-yet-realistic, horrific-yet-funny, funny-yet-horrific place. The deadpan part refers to the podcast narrator, who reports on things like the Glow Cloud, angel sightings, and mysterious helicopters monitoring the town like they’re perfectly normal.
When my friend recommended the show, he said Fink, as well as Lovecraft, had the potential to break a person down and make them question what they believed. Christians are called to work out their own faith with fear and trembling. Doing this with fictional mythos that may cause literal fear and trembling seems weird, but it’s safer than stories like the Da Vinci Code or the Shack. Someone without a strong foundation in the truth can be seriously messed up by those stories that claim to be “real.” Yeah, fiction can also mess you up, but the mythos is a constant reminder that it’s fiction. We talk about this here at the Correlation all the time.
So, it looks like I disagree with Isaac on the value in Lovecraft’s works. “Howard” may have written philosophies more than stories, but reading only what we agree with is a good way to get our faith squashed in the “real world.”
What do you think of Welcome to Night Vale? Let’s Connect!