Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Starlog Internet Project: Starlog #15, August 1978: Classical

Starlog reaches a new height (or length) in page-count with this issue: 84. Packed with a Twilight Zone fan's greatest dream, this issue is mostly aimed at lovers of the classics. That includes the (admittedly blurry and grainy) cover photo from the This Island Earth retrospective (it's not often that retrospectives make the cover). But there's new stuff, too, including the printing of a chapter of columnist David Gerrold's new novel, Death Beast. There's also some new staff: Ira Friedman joins the company as assistant publisher; Howard Cruse is no longer art director; he's succeeded (very temporarily, as it turns out) by Chris Hedick; and Robin Snelson is now listed as co-science editor with David Hutchison; Snelson would soon be co-editor of sister publication Future Life. On the advertising front, an interesting ad is a two-page spread from Heavy Metal magazine, promoting some of its graphic novels. It's another sign of the flowering of SF and fantasy publishing at that time in the late 1970s. There was a lot of dreck, but there was also some quality stuff, including Starlog and Heavy Metal.

Starlog #15
84 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $1.75

My how things change. Not only were classics like Twilight Zone different from the TV shows of 1978, or movies like This Island Earth different from blockbusters of the 1970s (which is what make Island a candidate for lampooning in the Mystery Science Theater 3000 motion picture many years later), but productions change quite a bit from first announcements through production to final release. Look no further for one example than the cover text of Starlog #15, which announces "TV's 'Earth Star.' Earth Star was just one of several names for what would become Battlestar Galactica, which is previewed on page 52.

Kerry O'Quinn's reach-for-the-stars philosophy is on full display in his From the Bridge column, where he encourages people to work hard to achieve their dreams. Communications letters range from UFO devotees to Godzilla pros and cons; short news items in Log Entries include tickets on the space shuttle for Steven Spielberg, GE gets a patent on a living organism, SF comics in the newspapers, Jefferson Starship's new SF-themed album Earth, and more. Richard Meyers interviews Superman director Richard Donner; the first chapter of Death Beast, from the novel by David Gerrold, is printed and is illustrated by Feibush; Jonathan Eberhart's Interplanetary Excursions, Inc., visits Valles Marineris on Mars; Susan Sackett's Star Trek Report announces that Trek has officially been given the green light to be a motion picture; Richard Meyers reports on Milton Subotsky's Thongor in the Valley of the Demons, which even an SF fan like me has to admit is an embarrassing title; Ed Naha writes about Twilight Zone, "Rod Serling's Dream," which serves as the introduction to the 11-page episode guide to the classic series, compiled by Gary Gerani. Richard Meyers previews the TV show known variously as Star Worlds, Earth Star, and Galactica; David Hirsch edits a new column by British SF producer Gerry Anderson, Space Report, which gives background on Space: 1999 and other Anderson productions; Richard Meyers looks at merchandising in "The Selling of Star Wars"; Louis Broadhurst previews Brian DePalma's The Fury; Michael A. Banks looks at "SF Prediction: Speculation or Future Fact?"; David Hutchison uses the SFX section to look at the creation of sound effects in classic SF films; Hutchison also puts together a two-page photo profile of makeup artist David Ayres; Robert Skotak and Scot Holton write the cover story, "Space: 1955 -- The Story of This Island Earth"; David Houston's Visions column examines extra-sensory perception in films such as Village of the Damned and Carrie; and editor Howard Zimmerman wraps it all up in his Lastword column by being cautiously optimistic about Galactica -- or whatever it's called this week.
"[I]f you're a bit skeptical about the future possibilities of some of SF's more fantastic themes, consider how outlandish modern technology must have appeared when it was presented -- before its time -- in SF."
Michael A. Banks, writer, "SF Prediction: Speculation or Future Fact?
To view previous Starlog Archive issues, click on "Starlog Internet Archive Project" in the keywords below.

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