Thursday, March 11, 2010

Starlog Internet Archive Project: Starlog #4, March 1977: Taking Shape

A number of names crop in in Starlog's fourth issue that will play big roles in the magazine's future. First is the author David Gerrold, who signs on as a regular columnist. Also joining the party is David Hutchison as a production assistant. He will eventually become the magazine's special effects editor, producing a series of special effects trade paperback books and editing sister magazine Cinemagic after that magazine is purchased by Starlog in a couple years.

Starlog #4 
68 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.50

There are no major leaps with this issue, but we do see the solidifying Starlog approach (its article mix, page designs, etc.) and reader appreciation for a magazine that was clearly filling a niche in the SF world. One item of note is the first appearance of fiction in this magazine; fiction would only appear a handful of times in Starlog, but it was well-chosen when it did appear. 

David Houston uses his editorial to herald David Gerrold's inaugural column; Log Entries is filled with reports on upcoming productions (The Island of Dr. Moreau), Hugo award winners, an "SF Resurgence in Comics," and books news (which seems to have migrated to this section from its previous Sci Fi Library location); James M. Elrod writes a "newsflash!!!" on Wade Williams' effort to release classic SF films. In his first column for the magazine, David Gerrold describes his antipathy toward critics -- and irony that he has just become one. The Communications letters page has the first, I believe, appearance of the "Sci Fi vs SF" controversy, an argument in which Starlog would eventually choose "SF" -- until it published Sci Fi Teen and Sci Fi TV magazines in the late 1990s.

Regular contributor Isobel Silden interviews Richard Anderson (Oscar Goldman from The Bionic Woman and The Six Million Dollar Man); David Hutchison writes about "Science-Fiction Movies in 3-D," covering a topic that would be a recurring passion of his; there's no author listed for a two-page filmography of 3-D movies from the 1950s, but it's there nonetheless; Star Teasers has two pages of games; the centerfold of the magazine appropriately features the two-page opening spread of "Arena," a reprint of a classic Fredric Brown short story (that had been adapted as a Star Trek TV episode in the original series), and the centerfold art is by the great Boris Vallejo, showing an alien blob meeting a naked man (I said it was appropriate for the centerfold -- you've got to trust me on these things); there's also a two-page color spread of images and descriptions of the Trek episode adaptation of Brown's story; Jim Burns interviews Space: 1999's Nick Tate, who played Alan Carter in that series; Gary Gerani gives the background to "The Inner Mind of The Outer Limits," which is followed by a complete episode guide to the series; we've got the first appearance of "Classified Information" advertising, and the Visions column wraps it all up with a look at robots in sci fi -- er, SF.
"The most useless job in the world is that of the critic. That is a prejudiced statement. I admit it. I'm prejudiced. I hate critics. ... And now, as the saying goes (yesterday, I couldn't even spell critik), and now I are one."
--David Gerrold, "State of the Art"
To view previous Starlog issue descriptions, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.

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