Wednesday, July 14, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #144, July 1989: Shatnerized

It’s the magazine’s anniversary again, and Starlog celebrates its 13th birthday with a thick issue full of interesting articles. Not only is the cover taken over by William Shatner, but the man was busy taking over the Star Trek film franchise itself, as he checks in on his feature directorial debut, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

In staffing news, Eddie Bergana and Daniel Dickholtz, who had previously shared the title of associate editor, now share the title of managing editor. And remember that weird title “advertising design” from a few issues ago? No longer exists. Meanwhile, the company’s publishing efforts continue to expand, with the launch of All-Star Action Heroes, covering action films and including four posters. The debut issue includes an interview with Mel Gibson that is actually safe for kids to read.

This issue is the first to carry a $4.95 cover price (last year’s 100-page anniversary issue was $3.95). The regular-sized issues will increase in price to $3.95 next issue. It’s of course quaint to realize that a 100-page science-fiction magazine that cost $4.95 in A.D. 2010 would be a steal, but then one realizes that this was 21 years ago, that age is catching up with you, and you burst into tears. Which is appropriate for a birthday issue. So what do the editors have in store for their sweet 13th?

Starlog #144
100 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

I’m quite sure few people read it at the time, so its mention here is only vanity on my part. In 1989, I reviewed Star Trek V for my college newspaper, The Badger Herald. My thoughts on the movie were, of course, mixed, which made me one of the more indulgent reviewers of this film. Actually, even 21 years later, my feelings are mixed. Parts of it disappoints me as a let-down, as less than what could have been. But other parts of it are quite nicely done. Am I consistent or what?

The rundown: If I were a better host for you through this history of Starlog, I would go through each of the previous anniversary issues so I could see if the following statement were true or not, but I”m not: I think this is the first anniversary issue in which Kerry O’Quinn’s From the Bridge column is normal-sized, not a super-sized “special anniversary editorial.” Nonetheless, he goes Down Under and reports on the Aussie science-fiction scene. In Communications letters, readers write post-mortems of sorts for Captain Power and the Soldiers of the Future, and other readers write about everything from Alien Nation to Gates McFadden’s Star Trek: The Next Generation exit; and David McDonnell’s Medialog updates us on all of the science fiction and fantasy projects of mid-1989, such as which genre pictures were recognized by the Academy.

Robert Greenberger talks with Count Nikolai Tolstoy about Merlin/King Arthur stories (is this the first time Starlog has interviewed anyone with the title of “count”? Again, I’m not that nice of a host to go back and check); Peter Bloch-Hansen interviews Richard Cheeves, star of War of the Worlds; David Hutchison’s Videolog rounds up the latest genre video releases, such as Willow and The Wizard of Oz; Bill Warren interviews actor Martin Kove about the TV show Hard Time on Planet Earth; and just in case you were worried that people were beginning to think science fiction was getting waaaaay too serious, San Scapperotti goes behind the scenes to report on the Jeff Goldblum- and Geena Davis-starring oddity Earth Girls Are Easy; and the Fan Network pages include Michael McAvennie’s report on the continuing matter of Starfleet spaceship designs, plus there’s a quiz about SF movie advertising lines (and they include the Star Trek V ad showing a seat flying through space with the tagline, “Why are they putting seatbelts in theatres this summer?” which I think is a damn good advertising slogan. I mean, it’s no “In space, no one can hear you scream,” but I might have to go back and adjust my review of the movie....).

Adam Pirani interviews Alison Doody, who plays Indiana Jones’ (and Dr. Henry Jones’) sorta-Nazi, sorta-girlfriend in The Last Crusade; the Shat is back: Marc Shapiro interviews William Shatner about his Trek directorial debut, Star Trek V: The Final Frontier; Scott Bruce looks at SF-related lunchboxes; Adam Pirani interviews Batman co-star Kim Basinger; Kim Howard Johnson previews the Terry Jones film The Saga of Erik the Viking; David Hutchison talks with Who Framed Roger Rabbit (and really Who Censored Roger Rabbit?) creator Gary Wolf and others involved in the movie version; interplanetary correspondent Michael Wolff (with illustrations by George Kochell) takes a look at genre stories of shrinking people.

Lynne Stephens profiles actor john Neville about his role as Baron Munchausen; Juanita Elefante-Gordon interviews actress Sarah Sutton regarding her time playing a Doctor Who companion in the Peter Davison years; Paul Tomlinson questions Stainless Steel rat author Harry Harrison; Edward Gross talks to director Vincent McEveety about working on original Star Trek episodes such as “Balance of Terror,” “Dagger of the Mind,” and “Patterns of Force”; Kathryn M. Drennan pens a one-page look at actor DeForest Kelley’s career in Western films; and David McDonnell’s Liner Notes explains why the magazine is publishing David Hutchison’s many-part article on the special effects of Roger Rabbit.
“There were some cast members who had expressed their apprehension about what I would do. But I knew what I wanted from certain actors and did my damndest to get it. Despite any fears the cast may have had, they were totally cooperative. As the movie progressed, they saw that I did know what I was doing, and I think I turned those people around who had previously doubted my ability to direct.”
–William Shatner, actor/director, interviewed by Marc Shapiro: “Shakedown Cruise, Part One”
To read previous issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent home.
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