The 18 Coolest Things in Starlog #007: Star Wars Finally Takes Off, the Star Trek Movie Continues to Idle, and Gene Roddenberry Is Still Better Than You.

Thursday, October 24, 2013 at 6:00 am

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The seventh issue of Starlog hit the stands on June 2, 1977, the fourth of the eight-times-a-year issues, and a mere two weeks after Star Wars was released. And yet, the rest of science fiction world went on about its business, not yet grasping how much things were about to change. The Space Shuttle Enterprise is also still on the verge of going strong any day now, much like the Star Trek movie.



Wanna see all the stuff I skipped? The full run of Starlog is available over at the Internet Archive, and here are the previous installments of this series.

1. That Cover, Right?

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Yes, it's called an X-wing, not X-winged, and it's a TIE Fighter, not Tie-fighter. Let's forgive Starlog those minor heresies and congratulate them on printing the picture right-side up - and not including the Death Star peeking in upside-down from the top, as happened so often in those days:

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So, kudos to them!

2. Which Glorious New Space-Fantasy?

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Oh, that one. Oh, I do enjoy selective italicization! And the Trek movie is hanging in there, already having to deal with the burden of being an instant classic, as does the screenwriter who will end up having nothing whatsoever to do with the final product.

3. Mr. McEnroe Continues to Stir It Up, and Stop Writing About Things I Don't Like!

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The gentleman who disagreed with David Gerrold's description of the satellites being orbiting nuclear bombs in Starlog #004 now takes issue with Gerrold describing network policies influencing programming decisions in #005. I am seriously beginning to think that McEnroe and Gerrold were actually pals, and had a good laugh about their one-sided feud in the Letters section of Starlog.

McEnroe had his own supporters and detractors, though.

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Meanwhile, a Texan is getting sick 'n tired of Starlog giving equal space to both good and bad science fiction.

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"...without mention of any bad aspects so as to prevent constructive criticism for the future." Anyone wanna hazard a guess as to what he means by that? How is constructive criticism, even of bad SF, a bad thing? Also, I'll bet that if this was written now, he'd end it with "Check yourself before you wreck yourself." I had someone say that to me in a comment recently because they disagreed with something I said in an article I wrote about Showgirls 2, and let's face it, that's just good advice.

4. Peter P. Purol of Mars.

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Seventeen year-old Peter P. Purol designed the logo for Viking Lander 1. How sweet is that? Here's a picture of the logo on the lander on Mars, but I also can't help considering how much the above picture represents the generation gap that was still going on by the mid-1970s. Also, I have to say that the older guy's sweet pinstripes take the prize over the younger guy's of-the-moment plaid jacket.

5. And by "In Action," We Mean "Inaction."

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All I'm saying is, if you're going to use the words "in action," maybe don't print them next to a picture that makes the Enterprise look like the Giant Soft-Shelled Stimpy laying its eggs in the Galapagos?

And even if the rest of the shots still don't show the Enterprise traveling under its own power, at least it's in the air (which is where space shuttles spent most of their time, right?), and the guys walking toward the camera look all heroic and stuff. According to the notes, however, they merely flew the 747, not the Enterprise itself. No wonder NASA had to keep cruising for astronauts in Starlog.

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6. The Funniest Headline of 1977.

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Oh, grow up.

7. Just Like Star Wars, This Movie Is Finally Out, Too! Yay?

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Yes: "A confused montage of images running helter-skelter." Not so much: "The best animated package since the days of the old Fleischer and Disney studio."

8. Luke Skywalker and Count Dooku, Together at Last.

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For the life of me, I cannot figure out which convention this is. It had to be before Mark Hamill's car accident on January 11, 1977, but beyond that, it's all a little foggy. The only Los Angeles convention mentioned in Star Wars Year By Year: A Visual Chronicle at which Charles Lippincott did the slideshow is Westercon, July 2-5, 1976, and it doesn't quite make sense that Starlog would give this kind of coverage to a con which occurred nearly a year previous, even though it had a heavy Star Wars presence. Also, the picture which Star Wars Year By Year says is Westercon is also cited by ew.com as being from Comic-Con, July 21-25, 1976. History is not an exact science.

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But people were still doing Planet of the Apes costumes - more on that below - and I like how that mockup of the bridge kind of captures the ambience of the Enterprise-D bridge, which always felt like a hotel lobby.

9. The First Star Wars Spoiler Alert.

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Seeing it "Cold," they called it then. Also, the W isn't quite there yet - it stands to reason they were fiddling with stuff like that right up the release date - and great pains are taken to call it a fantasy picture, disassociating it from science fiction as such.

You wanna who had the coolest job in the world in 1977? Charles Lippincourt, that's who. An old USC chum of Lucas, he was now in charge of advertising, publicity, promotion and merchandising for the Star Wars Corporation. Pretty much everything about the movie in this issue comes from him, and it seems like it must have been a fun gig.

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Does anyone know who the Humpy Dumpty-esque fellow is that they're running past in the bottom-right corner? I keep thinking that it's human Jabba, but the clothes are all wrong.

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Of course, some people would come to think of the eventual films Lord of the Rings and Flash Gordon and Dune as Star Wars ripoffs. The circle of life.

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The interesting phonetic spelling "C-3PIO" is used throughout the article, but what really strikes me is this particular pose of Alec Guinness and Mark Hamill, which I don't think I've seen before. Obviously there's the very famous shot from a slightly different angle, but Alec is workin' the badassery hard in this one. Not bad for an old British comedy actor.

10. Meanwhile, in the Other Franchise that isn't a Franchise Quite Yet...

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Both Susan Sackett's Star Trek Report column and an interview with screenwriter Allan Scott talk about many of the expected difficulties with the film, mostly on a technical level. They weren't really allowed to talk about the story yet, which is just as well, since the script that Allan Scott worked on with his screenwriting partner Chris Bryant would end up getting scrapped entirely. But the focus on effects and making the film big were there from the very early stages, for better or worse. For my money, while I agree that the emphasis on effects and technology was an undoing of the finished product (a finished product which remains my favorite Star Trek film, admittedly), it's ultimately the same problem as the Abrams films: too much big-budget spectacle. The only difference is that now it's whiz-bang action.

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Still, Allan Scott wants to deliver a mindfuck to the audience, and because it's 1977, he had a very timely concept of what that entails.

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That's right: Gene Roddenberry works harder than anyone else in the gods-damned universe, and that involves working with former Beatles. (Why aren't you working with any Beatles, you slug?) Also, holy cow, Roddenberry was writing a movie for McCartney? This is the first I've heard about it. Obviously it never came to fruition - though I'm guessing McCartney's 1979 album Back to the Egg, what with its spaceship-y cover, contains some of that project's DNA - but it's right up there with the great unrealized late-1970s rock movie projects, just below Who Killed Bambi?, the screenplay Roger Ebert wrote for the Sex Pistols. I'm not making that up.

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...which, lest we forget, has never, ever been done before.


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