Thursday, March 18, 2010

Starlog Internet Project: Starlog #19, February 1979: Wookie Life Day!

Every year, each magazine published in the United States that is distributed through the U.S. Post Office (i.e., mail subscriptions) is required to print a statement of ownership and circulation. This is the first issue in which Starlog has published one, and its reported paid circulation is the highest the magazine would see for many years. The paid circulation for the issue closest to the statement's filing deadline is listed as 195,736, including the number of paid subscriptions of 23,446.

Also in this issue is one of the odder attempts to extend the Starlog brand: Starlog co-publisher Norman Jacobs purchased a racehorse and named it Starlog. Two decades later, when I visited the office and was with the two publishers, they joked about whatever happend to that horse: "He's probably glue," said one.

Starlog #19
80 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.95

Science-fiction fans generally regard the Star Wars Christmas Special, highlighted on this issue's cover, as one of the low points of the George Lucas saga -- right down there with Ewoks and Jar Jar Binks. But despite the Special's presence on its cover, Starlog #19 is a good, meaty issue with lots of articles and photos to keep the SF fan -- casual or committed -- happy and busy.

Kerry O'Quinn opens things up with his From the Bridge column, in which he relates the high points of 1978 (producing records, launching Starlog in Japan, getting compliments from Isaac Asimov, and much more -- it was a good year for O'Quinn); Communications letters include bets on Buster Crabbe's life, viewer attempts to save NBC's Quark, a call for reader help with a new Photo Guidebook on roller coasters, and more; short news in Log Entries includes the announcement of the Starlog/Future short film competition (soon to become the Starlog/Cinemagic Short Film Competition, once Starlog buys that DIY film magazine), Duck Dodgers, Close Encounters of the Third Kind updates, Battle of the Planets comes to American TV (ugh), Starlog the horse, and more.

David Houston covers the return of Buck Rogers in Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; Jonathan Eberhart's Interplanetary Excursions, Inc., visits Olympus Mons on Mars; Ed Naha interviews Maren Jenson, "Athena" on Battlestar Galactica; David Gerrold opens a can of worms with Star Wars fans by asking "A Parsec in a Pear Tree -- or -- What Makes a Kessel Run?"; Richard Meyers and Charles Bogle interview Phil Kaufman, director of the new Invasion of the Body Snatchers; Ed Naha interviews Ralph Bakshi about his animated Lord of the Rings; two color pages are used to announce a Getaway Special contest to put a reader's experiment aboard a space shuttle (at $10,000, still probably a better investment than the racehorse); Robin Snelson looks at NASA's new jetpacks; Joe Bonham (i.e., Ed Naha again) interviews famed B-movie king Roger Corman; Natalie Millar lost the office bet and had to write the Star Wars Christmas Special article. In Space Report, Gerry Anderson answers reader questions on Fireball XL-5, Space: 1999 spaceships, and more; Susan Sackett's Star Trek Report covers watching dailies, set security, and the Trek softball team; Kent Dorfman covers "Superman: Ready for Takeoff"; Paul Mandell writes the SFX section this issue, exploring the making of the mothership from Close Encounters; Al Flyn looks at the new book Faeiries, illustrated by Brian Froud and Alan Lee; David Houston's Visions column looks at the early days of science fiction in mainstream culture (illustrated by a Boris Vallejo painting); and editor Howard Zimmerman takes a wrecking ball to Battlestar Galactica.
"It's hard to decide whether my basic reaction to ABC's Battlestar Galactica is anger or incredulity. ... The sad truth is that the plot inconsistencies are only part of the problem. There is no science background in the show whatsoever. Why don't Viper pilots wear pressurized suits when they fly? What good are those stupid-looking Egyptian helmets? What powers the Battlestar and its Viper craft? (If they possess faster-than-light drive, it has never been mentioned.)"
--Howard Zimmerman, editor, Lastword
To view previous Starlog Archive issues, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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