Sunday, May 2, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #85, August 1984: Arnold Schwarzenegger Takes Over

One of the enjoyable aspects of following movies -- especially genre movies, in science fiction -- is watching how certain movies come along and become milestones. For example, Conan the Destroyer is the cover story of this film, and though it was a big film at the time, it had little "legs" when it came to influencing the SF and fantasy genre. On the other hand, Gremlins, the nasty little Joe Dante film that seemingly came out of nowhere, became something of a benchmark for 1980s fantasy films. I'll leave it to you to argue over whether it had anything to do with the quality of either film (I've never seen so much as five minutes of any Conan film, so I can't comment on whether they're good or bad). But for those of us who are looking back 30 years at a science fiction media magazine, it's fun to remember when and why a film moved us or captured our attention, while others were simply watched and forgotten.

On an unrelated note, it's worth noting (well, if you're focusing on details, it's worth noting) that the ad for Starlog's series of photo guidebooks is a bit of an error this issue. It goes back in time before the new Special Effects guidebook is released, even though the ad in the previous issue, #84, included the new book.

Starlog #85
70 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

On a magazine production note, it appears that Starlog has either changed printers again and/or changed paper stock. It might have begun with the previous issue (the anniversary issue, #84), but it definitely is here with this one. The color pages if anything seem a bit thicker and heavier, while the black-and-white pages seem to be a bit thinner. A detail, perhaps. But for everyone who watches magazines and wonders why they do certain things, it helps to know that they are often shopping around to different printers to see who can provide them the same quantity and quality at cheaper prices. As an editor/publisher myself, I'll admit to being more conservative; I prefer to stick with a printer, unless it's necessary to move. But from the fairly regular changes in paper weight and quality over the years, I get the sense that Starlog was much more promiscuous with its printers.

The rundown: The Starlog Science Fiction Classic two-page foldout poster this month is a real gem of a classic, Blade Runner (showing Harrison Ford's Rick Deckard jumping across cars, chasing his target); Kerry O'Quinn's From the Bridge column, titled "Coming Attractions," includes his memories from visiting the set of 2010, plus some reflections on the treats enjoyed by Starlog Festival attendees; Communications letters include a ton of responses to various David Gerrold articles, including the excerpt from his A Matter for Men novel, plus readers chastise the editors for their Veronica Cartwright cover blurb in #81 (proving I wasn't the only one who thought it was in bad taste) and give Howard Zimmerman feedback on his column about Reagan administration attitudes toward free information; Log Entries short news items include a preview of The Neverending Story, a chat with Demon author John Varley, the Superman comic reaches issue #400, Bob Clampett passes away, and more.

Brian Lowry kicks off the features section with an interview with Richard Fleischer, director of Conan the Destroyer (who explains why he was embarrassed by the ad campaign for his Amityfille 3-D film, among other topics); Lee Goldberg interviews Buckaroo Banzai's Jeff Goldblum (who probably has more quirky characters on his acting resume than any 10 other actors put together); Randy and Jean-Marc Lofficier interview French filmmaker Luc Besson, who talks about Le Dernier Combat (The Last Combat); I have neglected to mention that a few issues ago, associate editor Leslie Stackel moved on to other things, and Penelope MaGuffin took her place, but Stackel's name still appears, such as with this interview with Muppet meister Jim Henson, who talks Labyrinth, The Dark Crystal, and more; David Gerrold ladles on the praise for his friend Harlan Ellison in his column this month; Jan Goldberg interviews actress Dame Judith Anderson about her role in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, and more (Jan Goldberg, by the way, is the mother of regular Starlog contributor Lee Goldberg); David McDonnell and Marc Weinberg talk with director Joe Dante about his weird little film Gremlins (with a sidebar by Patrick Daniel O'Neill on actor William Schallert; Dennis Fischer visits the set of the odd Michael Pare film The Philadelphia Experiment; Sal Manna talks with Ivan Reitman about Ghostbusters (and Meatballs and other films); David Hutchison interviews director Peter Hyams about 2010; Lenny Kay's Space Age Games and Computers column focuses on the new Apple Macintosh; Lee Goldberg (Jan's son) profiles Robert Zemeckis and Romanding the Stone; Robert Greenberger interviews the cute Lance Guest (no, not Lance Bass) about his starring role in The Last Starfighter; and Howard Zimmerman's Lastword column offers some questions to ponder for fans of V. (If only they'd listened...)
"The drawbacks? The Mac's black and white monitor removes some of the fun of computing, inhibiting gameplay, for instance. It seems a peculiarly conservative touch for an appliance so resolutely future-conscious. The Mac's lack of expandability might be another problem, though in reality, anyone needing more storage space might be interested in an upper level computer anyway."
--Lenny Kaye, columnist, Space Age Games and Computers: "The Mac Attack"
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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