The first issue of Starlog appeared in June of 1976, that sweet spot when Star Trek ruled sci-fi fandom, before Star Wars came along and changed everything. (The cover date is August, but the issue actually hit the stand in June, as are the vagaries of periodicals.) It wasn’t the only sci-fi magazine, but it became one of the most popular, hanging on until the Internet – and websites like Topless Robot – rendered it obsolete. You’re welcome, publishing industry!
But it was pretty fantastic in its day, so let’s look at the coolest (and occasionally goofiest) parts of each issue! If you’d like to read along at home, the full run of Starlog is available over at the Internet Archive.
(It should be mentioned while the Tom Baker era of Doctor Who was going strong at the time, it is not referenced for the first few years of Starlog, because PBS didn’t start showing Doctor Who in America until 1978.)
1. News You Can Probably Use. Or Not.
The obligatory news-tidbits section is called “Log Entries: Latest News from the Worlds of Science Fiction,” and in addition to previewing upcoming movies such as Logan’s Run and Meteor, Star Trek conventions are also cropping up all over the place. The cover of the program for this Washington, D.C. con is just about the most awesomely 1976-looking thing ever.
An important PSA for those inclined to buy Space: 1999 records.
2. Uhura Is (Mostly) Not Just a Pretty Face, and George Takei’s Time Warp.
The feature article, “Star Trek: Past, Present & Future,” included sidebars describing most of the major characters. (Chekov and Scotty get the shaft.) An argument could be made that the final sentence of this blurb about Uhura listed her qualities in order of least to most important, but of course that’s the kind of argument I’d make in 2013. Mustn’t be too judgmental of the past.
Try though I might, I can’t wrap my brain around the timeline of George Takei’s fencing career. He learned the sport for the episodes “The Naked Time” and “Shore Leave,” and then his dream came true in … “The Naked Time,” which was the episode for which he learned to fence in the first place? Wait, I’ve figured it out! Remember how they went back in time three days back in time at the end of the episode? There. Mystery solved.
3. Random Images, In Living Color!
The real meat of the issue: color.
You need to remember that a lot of people didn’t get to watch Star Trek in color because they only had B&W TV sets, even well into the 1970s, so this was a pretty big deal. But this “Special Collector’s Session” is rather abstract, featuring questionably sourced pictures from twenty-odd episodes accompanied by trivia or snippets of dialog. Some of them are indeed in bright, shiny color…
…and others appear to be photographs of the episode playing on a B&W screen. But it was probably color film!
4. William Shatner, Dignified As Ever.
I’m instituting a new rule. The next time you do a William Shatner impression – and, really, you shouldn’t be doing William Shatner impressions anymore at all, ‘cuz they’ve been played out since 1976 – you have to do it while jumping like this.
5.Back Before He Was a Pasty British Guy.
From the Episode Guide. That Khan sounds like an interesting character, huh?
6. Sexy (or “Uncharacteristic Tranquilly Sensous”) Filler.
Being the first issue, Starlog didn’t have any advertisers or classifieds just yet, so they filled the back pages with Star Trek-related puzzles and word games. Supply your caption in the comments! (And keep it clean, please.)
COMING UP IN STARLOG #002: A Star Trek movie is officially announced, as is a movie about a young adventurer named Luke Starkiller, written and directed by the guy who did American Graffiti. Also, Gene Roddenberry rules your face, and can superhero movies be serious? Tune in next time to find out!