The 19 Coolest Things in Starlog #008: Doctor Who Books, Space Tickets, and Lucas Is Your New God

Friday, January 17, 2014 at 6:00 am

11. Tickets to Spaaaaaace!

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Well, sort of. It's actually a story about how NASA is looking for astronauts and "payload specialists," not that they're selling passenger tickets to go into space, like Pan Am did started doing in 1968. (Here's what the tickets looked like.)

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And here's what Nichelle Nichols in a spacesuit looked like. Ms. Nichols has continued to work with NASA and space exploration since then, because she's the best.

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There hadn't been an actual shuttle launch yet, so they had to use an illustration...

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...an illustration which they made a point of disclaiming, lest they get a bunch of angry letters about it. (And you know they would have.) For my money, though, the most glaring inaccuracy in the picture is the lack of a frog.

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NASA Wallops Flight Facility/Chris Perry
It's also worth noting that the shuttle Enterprise is only name-checked once in the article.

12. Want More Star Wars? Here, Have More Star Wars.

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Well, they weren't wrong about the movies that follow being compared to Star Wars, though the fact that so many of them were direct rip-offs had a lot to do with it. And this isn't so much "coverage" as as "stuff to make you compelled to buy this issue" play. In any event, it just hurts to read this (completely valid) praise for all the people who worked so hard on the optical effects, doesn't it? Knowing that so much of their work would be replaced a couple decades later? Feh.

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See? Coverage. Pictures with words. That right there, that's coverage.

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There is perhaps no greater example of the schizoid nature of sci-fi in 1977 than the above images, on page 41 of this issue of Starlog, and what the reader saw when they turned the page...

13. The National Malaise, Now With Monkeys.

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...and they saw this, the beginning of an article on Saturday Morning TV. Is it any wonder Carter was defeated a few years later? Also, I'm callin' it: the titular Ark II is much cooler than the vehicle from Damnation Alley Survival Run Damnation Alley.

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If they'd just made the typeface a little smaller, the words "Once a week the youth of America join in a massive orgy" would have been on a single line, but no. Darn you, Starlog typesetter!

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Oh, the Kroffts. They're all kinds of hip now, but in the late 1970s when I was very young, I hated Krofft shows. Especially The Buggalos. They just felt so condescending, and if there was anything I hated as a five year-old, was being treated like a kid. (I had the same irrational hatred of children's menus. And children's menus that expected me to color them in could go straight to hell.) My favorite shows from an early age were M.A.S.H. and Star Trek, and I did enjoy cartoons, but live-action children's shows grated at me.

Also, R.I.P. Lou Scheimer.

14. Before You've Heard of the Show, Read the Novels!

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Someone was taking quite a chance by purchasing this half-page ad; according to the Tardis Data Core (which is as reliable a source as any in this case), a few isolated PBS stations may have started showing the John Pertwee episodes in the early 1970s, but it didn't start getting national exposure across the entire network until 1978. As for The Doctor Who Monster Book, the Data Core says it goes up through the episode that introduced the Zygons, which introduced the aliens which played a prominent role in The Day of the Doctor. Yay for meaningless coincidence!

15. Tiny Dinosaur, Big Hands.

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From the cover story about stop-motion animation. I find this picture very evocative, and I wish they'd used this picture for the picture for the cover, but what do I know about magazine layouts?

The rest of the article is pretty good, and makes a strong case for Ray Harryhausen's status as a tapetop god, but what's really exciting is what's coming next week.

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Oh, yeah, baby. Magicam.

16. Pretty Soon, Tom Hanks Will Go Insane.

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Suddenly, role-playing games start appearing. (The first ad for an RPG appeared in Rolling Stone a few months earlier.)

Cosmic Encounter makes a point of how simple and quick it is to play (and I don't know if you can be a biracial alien, but if so, I'd totally be a Laser-Zombie), but TSR's sci-fi game makes no such claim.

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What claims to be the official Metamorphosis Alpha homepage also claims that that it's the first sci-fi role-playing game, and I don't know nearly enough to about role-playing games to say otherwise. And it looks complicated enough to appeal to "Dungeons & Dragons Enthusiasts."

17. Get Your Scary Masks Here!

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Officially licensed masks, with the increasingly outdated logo at the top, from Don Post Studios. The movie had been out for less than two months at this point, and the deadline for submitting ads had to be at least a week before, possibly two. That's quick work.

18. Everyone Was Busy That Summer.

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Starlog hopped on that train pretty quick, no fools they. And I'm assuming they're legitimate / licensed, unless that was why they sucked up so hard to Lucas elsewhere in this issue.

19. And Speaking of Sucking Up....

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KISS returns to the back cover! They had been missed.

Coming up in Starlog #009: Magicam! Also, William Shatner bids a premature adieu to Star Trek.

Previously by Sherilyn Connelly:

The 5 Coolest Things About the Navajo Translation of Star Warss

The Nineteen Coolest Illustrations from Star Trek Fanzines

The 9 Coolest Sci-Fi Read-Along Records from the 70s and 80s

15 Awesomely Nerdy Behind-the-Scenes Documentaries You Can Watch for Free Right Now

The Eight Funniest Recurring Themes in the Original Star Wars Trading Cards

The Six Coolest Things In Starlog #001: The Voyage in Retro-Nerdery Begins

Ten Amazingly Strange Celebrity Hotlines of the 1980s


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