Friday, April 2, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #48, July 1981: Celebrating Five Years

Starlog ends its fifth year of publication with another bumper-sized issue. It was a year of pretty big changes at the magazine and of growth at the company itself, and the coming year would bring even more changes (just wait for it). Meanwhile, Starlog releases its latest photo guidebook: TV Episode Guides, spinning off into the trade paperback series one of its most popular signature features from the magazine.

Starlog #48
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.50

A personal note: I originally purchased this issue at the Manitowoc, Wisconsin, grocery store where my family did its weekly shopping, and my mother was somewhat taken aback by the cover price of $3.50 (hey, that was a lot in those days). When we got home and I started digesting the magazine page by page, article by article, I absorbed Kerry O'Quinn's special anniversary editorial and thought it perfectly illustrated why I liked the magazine so much. I presented the editorial to her and asked her to read it to understand why I'd pay so much for a science fiction magazine.

So, the rundown: Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge, "Keeping the Kid Alive," explains the importance of keeping a youthful enthusiasm and drive in your life; the Communications section features three pages of readers offering their anniversary greetings to the magazine; short news items in Log Entries include an update on Futuropolis (a winner of the magazine's 1978 short film search that has been expanded into a 30-minute film), Vonda McIntyre's Trek novel The Entropy Effect -- in which Kirk dies -- is one of the most eagerly awaited books of the year, Terry Gilliam's Time Bandits is coming, The Shadow is coming back into action, the brouhaha following President Reagan's attempted assassination led to the renaming of the lead character in The Greatest American Hero, and more.

James H. Burns interviews Harrison Ford for his second chat with the magazine in 12 months (this time, he talks Indiana Jones); David Gerrold takes on drug abuse in his Rumblings column; in part one ("A New View") of Kerry O'Quinn's three-part interview with George Lucas, the humble producer/director/genius talks about his influences and how he handles the work; Howard Zimmerman's "Starlust" poem is reprinted from issue #29.

In the special 36-page anniversary section, a series of SF films from the past year are reviewed via photos (The Empire Strikes Back, Altered States, Flash Gordon, Galaxina, Outland, Scanners); the first part of a three-part anniversary contest begins, with a cartoon find-the-oddities quiz; Robert Greenberger examines science-fiction comics; Greenberger also compiles the past year's Starlog article index; Greenberger -- again -- provides a "Sneak Peek at the Heavy Metal Movie"; Susan Adamo interviews science-fiction artist Vincent DiFate; Joseph Veverka returns with an article on plans for the Halley Comet flyby; Greenberger is back (what, did this guy lose an office bet or something?) with yet another article, this time a preview of science-fiction television programs for the coming year; David Hirsch previews SF games and toys; Hirsch also examines "Shuttles in Space: A Visionary Concept in Fact and on Film"; and wrapping up the anniversary section is a reprint of Howard Zimmerman's poem "Return" from issue #41.

Steve Swires interviews John Carpenter about Escape from New York and gets some information on his forthcoming version of The Thing; Bill Cotter and Mike Clark interview Lost in Space actor Bill Mumy; Sam Maronie reveals the special effects work of John Stears; Alan Brennert, a former Buck Rogers story editor, relates some amusing behind-the-scenes anecdotes from his time on the show; it's another four-page collection of anniversary greetings from science-fiction celebrities (including Arthur C. Clarke, Christopher Reeve, David Prowse, Douglas Trumbull, Mike Minor, Jesco von Puttkamer, the Brothers Hildebrandt, Harlan Ellison, and many more); Quest features a short story by W. Keith Brenton and space art by Gerhard Mros and Bruce Wildish; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword thanks all kinds of people who've made Starlog's five years a success.
"I don't want to upset your readers too much, but it's just a movie. It's no big deal. From a technical point of view -- my own point of view -- I don't think it's altogether that well-made a movie, because I was working under extremely difficult conditions."
--George Lucas, writer/director/producer, interviewed by Kerry O'Quinn: "The George Lucas Saga: Chapter One: A New View"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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