Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Highlander and other Dinosaurs: The Starlog Project, Starlog #185, December 1992

This month’s returning champion is a dinosaur web-spinner of some fame to the Starlog crowd. His name is Howard Zimmerman, and he was David McDonnell’s predecessor as editor of Starlog, steering the ship for most of its first decade of life before heading over to serve as an editor of Byron Preiss Books.

This issue, Zimmerman is interviewed about Preiss’ series of graphic novels called The Ray Bradbury Chronicles. The first illustration in the article is of a tyrannosaurus rex from one of the books. I thought that was a fitting opening, because Zimmerman himself would go on to write Dinosaurs! The Biggest Baddest Strangest Fastest, Beyond the Dinosaurs!, and Armored and Dangerous. Clearly, the guy likes dinos.

Starlog #185
84 pages (including covers)
Cover price: $4.95

Back in 1980, the magazine sold a Starlog-branded wristwatch. I never bought one, and I’ve never seen one outside of the full-page color ads that ran in Starlog and Future Life at the time. The watch looked nice, but the price was prohibitive: $50 plus shipping. And that was in 1980, 30 years ago. Not willing to sell my parents into slavery or knock over a bank just so I could get the money to buy the watch, I never owned one.

Fast forward to December 1992 (or at least the December 1992 issue of this magazine), and Starlog’s running a subscription deal in which you can buy one year (12 issues) of the magazine for $39.97 and you receive a free Starlog watch. The photo of the watch makes it clear that it’s a lower-quality watch than what was offered in 1980, but it’s still a rather cool premium. And I still didn’t get one. Either I was too poor in late 1992 to subscribe or my subscription wasn’t up for renewal at the time, but I missed my chance once again. Otherwise, I’d still have the watch today nearly two decades later, proudly wearing it everywhere even though it probably stopped working 12 months after I received it. Wouldn’t matter; I’d still wear it, and when people looked at me funny and said, “Your watch doesn’t work; the hands just spin around loosely,” I’d shrug and reply, “So what, dude; it’s a Starlog watch!”

Well, I probably wouldn’t say “dude,” even if I were 20 again. But the rest of that is true.

One last Starlog company note this time: On page 44 of this issue, Starlog publishes an ad for its new licensed Star Trek: Deep Space Nine magazine, which will be published four times annually. Subscribe for four issues for $25!! No watch, though.

The rundown: Television retakes the lead spot on Starlog this month, and it’s a two-fer. The highlighted show on the cover is Highlander, the TV spinoff of the cult movie series. And one of the actors on the cover is Richard Moll, who played Bull Shannon in the long-running sitcom Night Court. Meanwhile, the contents page features an illustration by Timothy Truman from The Ray Bradbury Chronicles. David McDonnell’s Medialog warns us that there will be a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III; Michael McAvennie’s Gamelog reviews Batman Returns, Dragon’s Fury, SkyRealms of Jorune, and other new games; genre editor Gordon Van Gelder writes in with a correction to a recent book review, and other letters in the Communications section include good-god-yet-another flare-up of the controversy over whether Starlog slants its coverage against Irwin Allen productions, plus reader thoughts on the late Isaac Asimov, The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, Linda Hamilton and Beauty & the Beast, Mann and Machine, and of course Star Trek, while Mike Fisher’s Creature Profile features Count Dracula.

In his Videolog column, David Hutchison notes the video versions of Batman Returns as well as Batmunk, among other video releases; a three-page Booklog includes reviews of Mars Prime, Murasaki, Count Geiger’s Blues, Lord Kelvin’s Machine, Storeys from the Old Hotel, Under the Shadow: Moonrunner #1, Sideshow, Doomsday Book, The Night of Wishes, The Sails of Tau Ceti, The Modular Man, and Afterimage; the Fan Network includes the usual conventions listing and Lia Pelosi’s directory of science-fiction fan clubs and publications; and in his From the Bridge column, former publisher Kerry O’Quinn writes that the new Starlog retail store (see last issue) is the culmination of something that he and former business partner Norman Jacobs wanted to do from the beginning.

It’s been a while since we had a contribution from Michael Wolff, but the magazine’s “interplanetary correspondent” is back with an examination of immortality in the genre, with illustrations by George Kochell; Marc Shapiro talks with executive producer Bill Panzer about his new TV show, Highlander: The Series, starring Adrian Paul (with Richard Moll guest starring in the first episode); Dan Yakir interviews Death Becomes Her director Robert Zemeckis, who explains the technical challenges of aging Meryl Streep 15 years and blasting a hole in Goldie Hawn’s stomach; and Marc Shapiro talks with Roman Coppola and Fred Fuchs about Francis Ford Coppola’s smash hit Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Actor George Hall portrays the old Indiana Jones in The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles, and this issue he tells interviewer Lynne Stephens about the role, which actually has the 75-year-old actor portraying a 93-year-old (he also has nice things to say about the considerably younger George Lucas); Kim Howard Johnson visits the Selma, Alabama, set of the new Body Snatchers (yet another reimagining of the 1956 Invasion of the Body Snatchers); and Stan Nicholls interviews legendary SF author Robert Sheckley (Crompton Divided, Citizen in Space, etc.), who tells him he was underwhelmed with the film Freejack, which was based on a story of his: “I thought Freejack was a pretty good action film, but to be honest, I was a little disappointed, because I expected them to get into the idea in my book more deeply. Freejack had very little development of the life-after-death or personality-transfer themes.”

Mark Phillips and Alain Bourassa provide a retrospective of the 1970s TV show The Immortal, about a man whose blood can extend other people’s lives; Edward Gross interviews Byron Preiss Books’ editor Howard Zimmerman, who discusses The Ray Bradbury Chronicles set of graphic novels; and editor David McDonnell’s Liner Notes discusses new Starlog Group one-shot magazine Dracula: The Complete Vampire and other immortals news.
“[Ray Bradbury’s writing is] classic storytelling in the sense that his subject matter is people. Classic SF has been seen as hardware stories and post-apocalyptic scenarios, heavy technology and jargon – all of which frightens some people away. They feel it’s a specialized field that they aren’t privy to. Bradbury, however, is accessible to anyone and everyone. A classic story like ‘The Electric Grandmother,’ which has been on The Ray Bradbury Theater and in 17 different anthologies, deals with a father, his kids and the relationship between them. The mother has died, and there’s this tremendous sense of loss the father doesn’t know how to deal with. But the device of the grandmother allows the daughter and the father to feel their grief, get over it and move back to the joys of life. When you have classic themes that are told by a writer of Bradbury’s caliber, the material is going to be accessible to anyone.”
–Howard Zimmerman, editor, interviewed by Edward Gross: “The New Illustrated Man”
For more, click on Starlog Internet Archive Project below or visit the Starlog Project's permanent site.

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