Friday, June 11, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #116, March 1987: The Women of Trek

This is as good of a time as any to praise the editor.

Since becoming the editor of Starlog with issue #97, David McDonnell (previously the mag's managing editor and a contributor to Comics Scene, and before that a contributor to Mediascene Prevue) made the magazine his own, as he should have done. But even before he assumed the top editorial position, his influence was clear. Cover lines became peppier – yes, sometimes controversially (remember the alien claim by Veronica Cartwright ion #81?). And with his ascension to the editorial pantheon, we got to see his judgment in article selection and presentation. We receive glimpses of why and how he chooses what, and how he presents it, courtesy of his editorials, so I don't think I'm totally giving you my simple opinion here.

Let's face it. Sometimes, editors of small magazines take the easy way out. They don't worry about articles. They don't push their writers much, because they're not being paid much (and Starlog's writers and editors were never paid enough). But McDonnell seems to have cared deeply about the details of his magazine, so I have always respected him, even when I disagreed with a particular article or presentation. I knew a professional was in charge.

Those thoughts come to me as I note the way he's taken the March 1987 issue, which is not in itself a special issue, and turns it into a mini-focus on the women of Trek. That's just smart editorial decision-making, and it's something he's done time after time.

Starlog #116
76 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $2.95

The magazine finally updates its Starlog Trading Post section, which is where it sells products from itself and other producers. Specifically, it adds the latest editions of the Starlog Scrapbook, Best of Starlog, and Starlog Poster Magazine.

The rundown: The cover features a spaceship photo of the Enterprise (you had me with "The cover features a spaceship" ...). In his From the Bridge column, publisher Kerry O'Quinn writes a thank-you letter of a sort to his business partner, Norman Jacobs, for being someone who suffered the bad times with him to reach for the "golden ring" of success (an editorial that is also notable for a photo of a younger O'Quinn at his drawing table, circa 1972). In the Communications pages, letters are printed from Marshall Brickman (interviewed in #111), tons of readers commenting on Aliens, still others writing in defense of Harlan Ellison, and more; and in the Medialog section, David McDonnell rounds up the latest genre news, such as that Mel Brooks and his company are pursuing a sequel to The Fly.

Daniel Dickholtz interviews Trek actress Grace Lee Whitney; Robert Greenberger interviews Majel Barrett Roddenberry; the Fan Network section includes short items on a Blake's 7 fan club, the Stardate SF role-playing magazine, the Comics Buyer's Guide awards ballot, 10th anniversary contest winners, answers to readers queries (such as, "Are there any videocassettes available for Thunderbirds, Captain Scarlet & the Mysterions and Alien Attack?"), and more; Robert Greenberger interviews Robin Curtis, who briefly reprises her Saavik role in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home; Brian Lowry interviews actress Nichelle Nichols; Michael A. Banks and Dean R. Lambe write the Other Voices guest column, focusing on "The Art, Science & Combat of Collaboration" (along with a sidebar with suggestions for other collaborators); William Rabkin and Edward Gross interview the final Trek woman, Catherine Hicks; David Caruba talks to Sydney Newman, creator of The Avengers and Doctor Who; David Hutchison writes the Comics Scene column this month, looking at 3-D comics; Jean Airey and Laurie Haldeman profile Paul Darrow (Blake's 7's Avon); in a rare change from his usual Videolog treatment of noting new genre releases, this month David Hutchison uses the column to explore the controversy over colorization of classic black-and-white films, a hot topic at the time; Roger Anker interviews Incubus author Ray Russell; Brian Lowry profiles voice actor Daws Butler (Hannah Barbera cartoons); Chris Henderson's Booklog notes the new print releases, such as Isaac Asimov's Robot Dreams; Douglas Borton previews director Rusty Lemorande's Journey to the Center of the Earth; and editor David McDonnell's Liner Notes column talks SF conventions.
"[There was] a certain amount [of controversy about his Playboy short story]. For one thing, I had a Russian cosmonaut in the same spacecraft with an American astronaut, making the first manned moonshot. And the American was black. The story was written in 1967, just a week or two before the appointment of the first real-life black astronaut, Major Robert Lawrence. That made the Playboy legal eagles jumpy, because they were afraid my black astronaut character might be misconstrued as a portrait of Major Lawrence. Then, Lawrence was killed when his Starfighter jet crashed ..., making the situation even more touchy, and the magazine delayed publication of the story for more than a year. "
–Ray Russell, writer, interviewed by Roger Anker: "Ray Russell: Sly Old Fox of the Fantastic"
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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