Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #52, November 1981: Blade Runner Comes into Focus

In merchandising news this month, on page 65 of this issue, you can order your very own Starlog baseball cap (or separately you can order the Starlog iron-on patch). That's right, no new magazines, no new books or film ventures. A cap; a nice but not ground-shaking new development. Much like this issue itself: good SF movie/TV/art coverage, but it isn't going to knock your socks off. Still, because Blade Runner takes center stage for the first time, I've always considered this issue to be a special one nonetheless. And I never did get to order a Starlog cap.

Starlog #52
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.50

The cover features the long-anticipated Ridley Scott movie Blade Runner, adapted from Philip K. Dick's story Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep. It's great to see it get such prominent placement, but it's a shame that -- for a movie that featured such astounding visuals -- the cover photo is rather grainy and out of focus.

Now, the rundown: Kerry O'Quinn revisits some recent science-fiction conventions in his From the Bridge column; in the Communications pages, letters include comments on militarized space, David Gerrold's column about drug abuse, Escape from New York, and more -- most noteworthy is Harlan Ellison's letter taking to task Sean Connery for his treatment (in issue #50) of a film journalist who dared to question the quality of Outland; in Log Entries, short news items include a sneak peek at Swamp Thing, a report on the making of the Hubble Space Telescope, a preview of National Public Radio's fall lineup, a peek at the sitcom Mr. Merlin (whose young co-star Zach -- Clark Brandon -- looks a heck of a lot like the star of The Powers of Matthew Star, Peter Barton), veteran writer Sam Peeples is rewriting the script for the Star Trek sequel, Isaac Asimov announces a sequel to his Foundation series and Arthur C. Clarke announces a sequel to 2001: A Space Odyssey, and more.

James Van Hise takes us behind the scenes and on the set of Blade Runner; David Gerrold's Soaring column explains some of his philosophical ideas behind story structure; Alan Spencer interviews Heartbeeps director Allan Arkush; Susan Adamo reports on the release of Distant Stars, an illustrated collection of stories by Samuel R. Delany; Samuel J. Maronie interviews Peter Barton, the hero of The Powers of Matthew Star; James H. Burns interviews Julian Glover (from The Empire Strikes Back, For Your Eyes Only, and Space: 1999); Mark Mutchnik visits New York's Museum of The Surreal & Fantastique (and the article is illustrated with a couple big H.R. Giger paintings); in part two of Steve Swires' interview with William Shatner ("I Am Kirk"), the actor swipes at Harlan Ellison for the latter's critical review of Star Trek -- The Motion Picture: "We don't seem to be that far apart. I don't quite agree with his adjectives, though. They're a little strong, but then so is Harlan Ellison -- he's little and he's strong"; Swires also previews the comedy The Creature Wasn't Nice; Helen Sargeant pens a short story about weird goings-on at the Starlog offices in the Quest pages, which also includes some Barry Jones model-making and comic strips by Ken and Paul Montgomery; David Hutchison's SFX section looks at the work of special effects animator Peter Kuran (Dragonslayer, The Empire Strikes Back, Galaxina); and Howard Zimmerman ends the issue with a look at the changing face of science-fiction television.
"Returning to the tube is ABC's Greatest American Hero, now joined by CBS' Mr. Merlin (a comedy) and The Powers of Matthew Star on NBC. ... [T]hese three shows point to another trend in the making. Ralph, Matthew and Merlin all have powers that are activiated by thought -- the powers of the mind. It seems as though TV is forecasting an end to the investigation of outer space in favor of exploring inner space. If these three shows prove successful, we may see shows featuring psychic cops, telekinetic gurus and the Jean Dixon Predicts hour."
--Howard Zimmerman, editor, Lastword
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.
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