Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #100, November 1985: The Importance of Being 100

Just think of all of the science-fiction media magazines that never published 100 issues: Fantastic Films (didn't even get halfway there), Questar, SF Movieland, Star Blasters, Science Fiction Illustrated, Sci Fi TV, Sci Fi Teen, The Monster Times, and more. How many can you name? The point is that it's difficult to keep a magazine afloat for a decade or more, so Starlog's 100th issue was quite an achievement.

Three big players in genre entertainment bought ads in this issue congratulating the magazine for its milestone issue: Lucasfilm, Warner Bros., and Amblin Entertainment.

Why am I listing all these things? Because this is a biggie list issue. The theme is "The 100 Most Important People in Science Fiction," who are featured in short writeups in a loooong article that sprawls throughout much of the issue. I won't reprint the list of names here, because, well, I'm too lazy. But suffice to say it includes many of the people you would expect to be on such a list of genre notables (Isaac Asimov, Frank Frazetta, Harlan Ellison, George Lucas, etc.), as well as some less well-known choices that might have surprised some readers (Olaf Stapledon, A. Merritt). This list would continue in the magazine's 200th and 300th issues, so pretty much anyone you though should have been on this 100 list gets onto the list sooner or later. I think my cat is number 293.

Starlog #100
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $3.95

In Starlog spinoff news, the sixth edition of The Best of Starlog is out, including new and previously published articles.

But back to issue #100. This special 100-page magazine includes extra color pages, as well as interviews with some of the biggest names in the field. And as much as it is a celebration, the magazine does not shy away from controversy, especially with publisher Kerry O'Quinn's interview with Gene Roddenberry, which includes quite a bit of religious criticism. They do something else that's not controversial but is rather cool: The issue includes separate short articles by each of McDonnell's predecessors as editor, David Houston (who gives some interesting background on the magazine's early years) and Howard Zimmerman.

The rundown: For the first time ever, co-publisher Norman Jacobs pens an editorial. The From the Bridge column is broken into two parts, with O'Quinn writing part and then Jacobs writing part. Jacobs tells us what most of us suspected; he's the business person running the Starlog empire (somebody's got to negotiate with printers and distributors). Meanwhile, O'Quinn talks about the magazine's growth and shares a barrage of quotes from readers (including one that, I think, was mine: "If there is any magazine on the market that constantly offers inspiration and positive values, it is Starlog" -- which is attributed to "John" in "Wisconsin," both of which I was, and it sounds very much like something I'd have written back then; I know, I know – that, and a dollar, will get me a cup of coffee). There is no letters page this issue, and Future Life, Fan Network, and Videolog also take the month off. But Log Entries is here! So short news items include Chris Henderson on a number of new genre books from Charles Shffield, Richard A. Lupoff, and others, and David McDonnell's roundup of news bits includes word on a Heavy Metal movie sequel (to be called -- but never made -- Heavy Metal's Burning Chrome), a sequel to The Ewok Adventure, and much more.

In the Other Voices guest column, Starlog's founding editor, David Houston, relates the tale of Starlog's inspiration and creation (including this insight, from an explanation of when Houston joined the company: "Kerry and Norman ... enjoy, and succeed at, the process of publishing: define a market, discover how to answer a need, locate effective suppliers, find and hire the right personnel, keep costs low, give it a best effort; and it doesn't make much difference what the subject matter might be. Evidently. They've come out with everything from astrology to wrestling."); "The 100 Most Important People in Science Fiction/Fantasy" kicks off with John W. Campbell Jr., and ends many, many pages later with Willis H. O'Brien; Kerry O'Quinn interviews Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry about life, the universe, and everything -- but mostly about religion; Mike Clark interviews Lost in Space creator Irwin Allen; Steve Swires interviews stop-motion effects magician Ray Harryhausen; Lee Goldberg interviews George Lucas; it's time-travel time: back in issue #92, Steve Swires interviewed John Carpenter in the first part of a two-part profile, and this issue -- eight months later -- part two of that interview is published; Swires also interviews Leonard Nimoy about Star Trek IV; Lee Goldberg interviews writer Harlan Ellison (who gets even more biting in part two of this interview, published next issue); Robert Greenberger interviews actress Nichelle Nichols; Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier profile writer Richard Matheson; Steve Swires finishes his two-part interview with Peter Cushing (the first part ran in #96); Howard Zimmerman writes a guest Lastword column, in which he looks at the ways science fiction media have evolved in the past decade; and David McDonnell's Liner Notes column gives some background on this anniversary issue.
"I always liked the bizarre. I suppose that was part of my Germanic background. Fantasy films always attracted me. I can remember my parents taking me to see The Lost World and Metropolis when I was very young. My love for science fiction and fantasy led me to join the Science Fiction League in Los Angeles, where I first met Ray Bradbury and Forrest J. Ackerman. We all had similar interests. We dreamt about space platforms, and going to the Moon and Mars. That was in the 1930s, so most 'normal' people thought we were off our rockers."
–Ray Harryhausen, filmmaker, interviewed by Steve Swires: "Ray Harryhausen: The Man Who Can Work Miracles"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
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