Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Starlog Project: Starlog #168, July 1991: An Arnold-Sized 15th Anniversary Issue

Arnold Schwarzenegger is on the cover of Starlog, touting Terminator 2: Judgment Day, one of my favorite James Cameron films, though it's interesting to read Cameron in the cover story talking about how he has no new film lined up after this one, so if T2 isn't successful, his career could be trashed. A $100-million budget buster at the time of its making (well, few Cameron films arn't budget busters), it went on to become a huge success. It was also noted for its relentless action and violence, but I thought Cameron & Co. did a great job of making the film an anti-violence and anti-war film.

Plus it gave us a vengeful Linda Hamilton and little Edward Furlong, so it’s an all-around success.

Starlog #168
88 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

The cover price is jacked up to $4.95 from the usual $4.50 for this issue, but we don’t get the 100-page anniversary issues we got for the past decade. Instead, it’s only 88 pages. However, it does actually celebrate its anniversary, unlike most of the recent anniversary issues, which featured really just a larger issue (good issues, they were, just not chock full o’ anniversary goodness). This time, there’s a 10-page feature of photos and select quotes from the magazine’s history, plus a four-page gatefold poster of all of the previous covers of the magazine.

Editor David McDonnell notes in his editorial, “We could have chosen to review 167 issues of Starlog in this edition, remembering them all in great detail. Or print a section filled with anniversary messages from various celebrities – an idea I’ve always found self-congratulatory back-patting (and which we abandoned years ago). ... I didn’t want to do that. Many of you have been with us as readers for so long that you know our history. It’s as close as your bookcase (or mine) ... So rather than revel in the past, we’ve limited the celebration. Our special gatefold this issue re-presents all 167 Starlog covers. ... And in a long (but not that long) section, look to the voices of Starlog’s past, present and future as published over 15 years.”

The rundown: Arnold’s Terminator is on the cover; as noted above, there’s the eight-page fold-out poster of all previous covers, and there’s a two-page fold-out poster of Kevin Costner in Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves garb; comic-book versions of the Lost in Space folks are on the contents page; and in his Medialog column, David McDonnell alerts us that there will be an animated TV series spinoff of the Back to the Future films.

Interplanetary correspondent Michael Wolff, with illustrator George Kochell, looks at the depictions of Death (personified death, that is); Communications letters include Philip José Farmer commenting on William Wilson Goodson’s Robin Hood historical article from issue #166, readers complaining about the ugly creatures featured on the cover of issue #164, others exploring ideas raised in the recent Philip K. Dick interview or picking over the carcass of Beauty & the Beast, and more; Fan Network includes Lia Pelosi’s science-fiction fan club directory and the convention calendar; David McDonnell’s Videolog departs from his usual practice of listing newly released genre videos and instead explores the advent of 3-D home video; and Kerry O’Quinn’s From the Bridge column includes his experience in a college class that explores Star Trek episodes.

In “Voices of Starlog Past,” photos and quotes are reprinted from past issues of the magazine; Marc Shapiro visits the set of Terminator 2: Judgment Day; Edward Gross interviews Pen Densham, co-scriptor of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves, which he admits was spawned by his idea of a “Robin Hood a la Raiders of the Lost Ark“; Kim Howard Johnson looks at the comics form of Lost in Space; and Edward Gross talks with writer Steven Carabatsos, who scripted original Star Trek episodes such as “Court Martial” and “Operation Annihilate.”

Gregory Mank talks with actor Hurd Hatfield and explores The Picture of Dorian Gray on film; Bill Florence profiles actor Harry Townes, a veteran of Star Trek (“The Return of the Archons”), The Brothers Karamazov (on which he worked with William Shatner), Screaming Mimi, and more; Stan Nichols interviews writer Michael Moorcock, who says that “Science fiction and rock ‘n’ roll were the two areas, as a kid, where there was no adult interest, no Establishment interest. I suppose I could dignify it all and romanticize it by saying it was revolutionary, or against the grain, and to some extent it was, but the fact is that every generation looks for something they can call their own”; and editor David McDonnell wraps it all up in his Liner Notes column by discussing the creation of this anniversary issue and listing a bunch of staffers, current and former.
“[For the film Dragon Seed,] I had these Chinese eyepieces; mine always came loose just before each shot. On location, in the San Fernando Valley, the loudspeaker would order, ‘Hatfield to the cameras!’ The first day, [costar Katharine] Hepburn – who terrified me – came out to watch this new young actor. I got on my Chinese water buffalo, and the buffalo, quite logically, went straight into the water, soaking my costume! I hit him with my antique Chinese flute – and broke it! And, of course, I knew nothing about continuity. In the scene on the old Chinese farm, I was to play my flute. In the master shot, I played the flute one way; in the medium shot, to be creative, I played it another way; in the close-up, a new way! Suddenly, there was this terrible pause. The director came up to me and said, ‘Have you been playing that flute the same way all morning?’ ‘Oh, no!’ I said very proudly. ‘I played it here, and this way, and this way ...’ Well, he threw his hat down, stamped on it, shouted implications and oaths... I had ruined most of the morning’s shooting! I thought, ‘Why’d I ever leave the theater?’”
–Hurd Hatfield, actor, interviewed by Gregory Mank: “Portrait in Gray”
To see more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit The Starlog Project’s permanent home.

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