Saturday, March 20, 2010

Starlog Internet Project: Starlog #23, June 1979: Alien Invasion

This issue has one of my favorite Starlog covers: A very moody, mysterious, dark shot from Alien. It perfectly captures the otherworldly thrills that Alien will deliver. It's funny that only this week did I look closely enough at the photo to realize that it's cut off and replaced by a solid band of black along the top (and, presumably, along the bottom, though I can't see an obvious clear cut). Look about half an inch beneath the "R" and the "L" in the magazine's logo, and you can see that the bluish alien tunnel doesn't just fade into darkness, it's sheared off where, presumably, the edge of the original photo ended.

Starlog #23
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.95

As the magazine completes its third year of publication and prepares for its large anniversary issue the following month, the focus is on aliens: the odd Doctor Who, Gort and Klaatu, Space: 1999's Maya, and the most alien of aliens -- the Alien alien. Some are good, some bad, some are peaceful, some want to plant a baby alien in your chest.

Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge chronicles his company's move into film production (which would not come to much); the Communications letters pages include a note about the delayed launch of Fantastica magazine, Harlan Ellison's reply to Mark Hamill's comments about him a couple issues ago, and more; short news items in Log Entries include an advance look at The Black Hole, info on Superman II, talking with the Flat Earth Society, celebrating Isaac Asimov's 200th book, and more; Gerry Anderson's Space Report features a photo essay on Space: 1999 character Maya.

A large preview article on the new movie Alien is the Starlog article that future "Uncle Bob" Bob Martin was born to write, so it's good that they let him write it; Peter S. Perakos gives a sneak preview of the Philippines-lensed movie Monument (remember that movie? Of course you don't); Susan Sackett's Star Trek Report answers the most-asked question about Trek; David Gerrold's State of the Art column discusses the awards game; Ellen M. Mortimer profiles Britain's time-traveling low-budget classic/embarrassment (take your pick) Doctor Who, and she writes an episode guide to the 1974-1978 seasons of Who; Al Taylor provides a retrospective on the classic The Day the Earth Stood Still; David Hutchison gives a behind-the-scenes peek at the work of Joe Viskocil; David Hirsch interviews Darth Vader himself, David Prowse; Douglas L. Crepeau gives us an overview of "Blacks in Science Fiction Film"; David Hutchison's SFX section continues looking at careers in the special effects trade; David Houston's Visions column looks at Charles Darwin's effect on science fiction; the Next Month box bloats to two-thirds of a page to announce the 100-page anniversary issue (on sale Tuesday, June 5, 1979 -- be there!); and Howard Zimmerman eeks out a one-third-of-a-page Lastword column, where he remembers the late Al Hodge.
"Mr. Hamill's confusion about my attitude toward the little film in which he appeared is touching.... Equally touching is his understanding of the unimportance of his opinions; would that more of us had the sense and nobility to perceive our limitations. ....I take it as a gesture of magnanimity not to further ridicule him: As a functional illiterate, Mr. Hamill does a good enough job on himself."
--Harlan Ellison, letter writer, Communications
To view previous Starlog Archive issues, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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