Monday, March 29, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #38, September 1980: Spielberg Strikes Back

Steven Spielberg got some big box office in 1980 when he re-released his Close Encounters of the Third Kind as a Special Edition. Starlog certainly played it up, taking a brief break from celebrating The Empire Strikes Back (though David Gerrold has his not-necessarily-warmly-welcomed thoughts on that movie) to go inside the mothership.

A cover photo note: As the magazine did with a couple other covers (such as its first Alien cover), the photo on the cover has been artificially extended to reach the top of the cover; however, unlike past such covers where the top of the cover was black, so the dividing line between the original cover and the filler background is hard to find, this time there's quite a sharp distinction -- just look about midway down the "R" and the "L" in the magazine's logo. Tsk, tsk. In staff news, Ira Friedman is no longer listed as one of the publishers, and Rita Eisenstein's name take its place beneath Norman Jacobs' and Kerry O'Quinn's at the top of the masthead. On the merchandising front, Starlog announces its second calendar, this one, like the first in 1980, is devoted to space art; also, the first edition of The Best of Starlog is advertised on page 48.

Starlog #38
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: 2.25

For someone who fell so deeply in love with Star Wars: A New Hope, David Gerrold sure finds a lot to pick apart in its sequel, The Empire Strikes Back. But a good critic's job is to not worry about being contrarian, and even to leap at the opportunity when it presents itself. (Still, just between you and me, Empire is better than New Hope, right?)

Kerry O'Quinn kicks off the magazine with his introduction of a bit of Ayn Rand into his From the Bridge column; Communications letters include a statement from Starlog's publishers (that had been read to the audience of a June 22 event of the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror) remembering the late producer George Pal, plus reader reactions to Empire Strikes Back, and more; Log Entries short news items include an update on Carl Sagan's Cosmos, info on Doctor Who's robot dog K9, Gil Gerard's appearance to support the Special Olympics, and more.

David Hutchison pens the cover story ("One Step Closer: CE3K: The Special Edition"); David Gerrold shares his problems with The Empire Strikes Back in his Rumblings column ("The Empire Strikes Out"); Karen E. Willson interviews De Forest Kelley, Star Trek's "Bones" McCoy; Gerry Anderson's Space Report excerpts the Space: 1999 writer's guide; Jim Wynorski, before he became a low-budget filmmaker, wrote articles for Starlog and Fangoria -- here he talks with Bill Malone and Bob Short about their horror film Scared to Death; Samuel J. Maronie interviews Tim O'Connor, who portrays Dr. Huer on Buck Rogers in the 25th Century; David Hirsch compiles an episode guide to Buck Rogers' first (1979-1980) season; Susan Adamo previews the SF spoof Galaxina, speaking with director/screenwriter William Sachs; Quest prints model designs from Australian SF fan J.T. Millett; Karen E. Willson's multi-part making-of series on the Buck Rogers episode "The Flight of the War Witch" continues; Samuel J. Maronie provides a retrospective of the work of George Pal; C.M. Stevenson previews Ray Harryhausen's Clash of the Titans; Alan Brender interviews artist David Mattingly and shows off some of Mattingly's great paintings; Bjo Trimble's Fan Scene relates the visits of some foreign fans; David Houston's Visions (though it's not bylined this issue, I'm guessing that he wrote it) covers pre-Star Wars film scores; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword complains about the lack of quality SF productions.
"Even after Star Trek was cancelled, NBC made so much money from the syndication that they referred to the show as the '79 jewels.' It's a show that never really let go of any of us. And I don't know if it ever will."
--De Forest Kelley, actor, interviewed by Karen E. Willson: "A Candid Conversation with a 'Simple Country Doctor': De Forest Kelley"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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