Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Starlog Internet Archive Project: Starlog #12, March 1978: Seems Like Old Times

This is a great issue, a magazine that I'd have been glad to have show up in my mailbox, to sit next to my bed to be devoured every night before I went to sleep. But it was published two full years before I would buy my first copy of Starlog, so I only got to know it years later as a back issue. Staffbox changes: David Hutchison, having established himself as the resident special effects guru on staff, is now listed as the science & SFX editor. Rita Eisenstein appears as a production assistant; Eisenstein would work her way up the company to executive VP, second-in-command to the Starlog Group empire, by the early part of the 21st century. Talk about starting at the bottom rung and working your way up.

Starlog #12
80 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.75

This is another issue with examples of Starlog growing, flexing its muscles, reveling in its success. It includes the launch announcement of the first spinoff magazine from Starlog, called Future (renamed Future Life a year later). The magazine also shoots its first television commercial, featuring a famous science fiction icon as its spokesman -- er, spokes'bot.

Kerry O'Quinn uses his From the Bridge column to do two things: first, he urges SF fans to have high standards and demand quality science-fiction entertainment, and second, he announces the birth of Future magazine. The Communications letters range from amateur filmmaking geek talk to commenting on Isaac Asimov's faster-than-light travel, and more; short news items in Log Entries include a report on the "Martian winter," SF video games, Mark Hamill's role in Stingray, Spacelab, and more.

An unbylined one-pager TV Update announces the cancellations of Logan's Run and Man from Atlantis. James Obert commemorates the 20th anniversary of "Sputnik and the Opening of Space"; Charles Bogle chronicles the Charles Band movie Lasterblast, which would quickly be forgotten until it was immortalized in episode 706 of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (for completists, we might note that the Laserblast article is cut off at the bottom of page 23 -- the jump line was left off, so readers were left to page through the magazine until they get to the article's completion on page 70); Susan Sackett interviews her boss, Gene Roddenberry, on the making of the new Star Trek movie; Sackett also contributes her regular Star Trek Report column, answering questions from fans. David Hutchison provides a "Special Report on the (New) Enterprise" design; Richard Meyers writes about another soon-to-be-forgotten 1970s SF flick, Starship Invasions; the Conventions page covers Mystery Con II, Science-Fiction, Horror & Fantasy Con, and Creation Con; David Gerrold's State of the Art column publishes a pack of his Solomon Short quotes (he would do this one or two more times during his years as a columnist); James Oberg investigaes "UFOs: Reel vs. Real"; Ed Naha writes the humongous cover feature on Close Encounters of the Third Kind; David Hutchison interviews Star Wars animator Larry Cuba; it's more makeup effects masters profiled in the SFX section: Samuel J. Maronie does Dan Striepeke and Richard Meyers does the legendary Dick Smith; David Houston profiles space artist extraordinaire Chesley Bonestell; there's a one-page report on the Starlog TV commercial starring Robby the Robot, including a photo of Robby being "directed" by a script-in-hand Kerry O'Quinn; Richard Meyers writes about superheroes on TV; David Houston explores "Two Branches of Science Fiction's Conceptual Family Tree: Part I: Wishful Thinking" in the Visions column; and to close out the book we have the first column by editor Howard Zimmerman, whose Lastword issues a harsh verdict on Close Encounters.
"If Mr. Spielberg did not want to make a science-fiction movie then he should have chosen another theme. However, having chosen the theme that he did, it was his responsibility to do something with it. Spielberg had the chance to expose the public to the meat and heart of SF -- extrapolation from today to tomorrow and the personal consequences thereof -- and he blew it."
--Howard Zimmerman, editor, Lastword
To view previous Starlog Archive issues, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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