Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Republibot Remembers Fantastic Films, Sci Fi Universe, Starlog, & More

Sorry this is so late, but I only today discovered this post on Republibot, a conservative science-fiction web site. The post remembers what I call the last golden age of science-fiction magazines, the late 1970s, early 1980s – if you define such magazines not as the fiction mags but the splashier, flashier movie/TV/book media magazines that made Kerry O'Quinn and Norman Jacobs rich over at Starlog Group.

Republibot's comments on the various magazines are entertaining. I don't agree with him on a number of things; if Republibot thinks Starlog's journalism was bad, I don't know how Fantastic Films could rate higher on that writer's favorites list. To put it in right-wing terms Republibot might understand: A wag once labelled New Criterion editor Hilton Kramer the "poor man's Norman Podhoretz," which is a terribly nasty thing to say. But funny. Well, I always thought of Fantastic Films as the poor man's Starlog; it wasn't as good, it had fewer readers, its design was a mess, and its writing was at times laughable. It is a sad comment about the world of genre publishing that Fantastic Films was arguably the best of Starlog's competition (until the early 1990s, when new American and British publishers launched genre titles).

But to each his own. Despite my obvious bias, I also enjoyed a number of issues of Fantastic Films during its brief lifespan, and I obviously enjoyed Starlog's sister magazine, Future Life, which Republibot remembers fondly. However, I definitely don't share Republibot's love for early Sci-Fi Universe magazines. Published at first by the Larry Flynt family of publications (around the same time it launched Film Threat magazine), Sci-Fi Universe is the only magazine I know of to have published an interview with Harlan Ellison that was boring. I mean, you have to try to make him sound boring, something SFU managed to pull off.

But quibbling about films and politics and magazines is what makes genre life so much fun. That also makes me happy to have discovered Republibot.


Mike Metzler said...

A much better magazine to be talking about during this time period is Cinefantastique. Although lower profile than Starlog, it's writing, reviews and research was the best from the early '70s through the late '80s.

jzipperer said...

CFQ was truly great at the very end of the 1970s and the early '80s, though I think it, too, lost a lot of its independence and creativity as the decade wore on.

But I still remember the very first issue of CFQ that I bought: A back-issue I found in a used bookstore, featuring David Cronenberg on the cover. I thought it was an absolute knockout magazine -- but then I couldn't buy another copy for years because the mag wasn't sold in the small town in which I lived! Alas ...

Unknown said...

SCI-FI UNIVERSE started off strongly with a FILM THREAT-kinda vibe but then they changed direction/ownership/whatever and the quality went downhill fast and thankfully it was eventually killed off. But I remember its early run fondly.