The fifth issue of Starlog was published in March of 1977, the second of the eight-times-a-year issues. The magazine starts to move beyond sci-fi shows and movies, largely because there weren’t that many to write about, and gets more into actual science and technology. Also, readers write lots of cranky letters.
As always, if you’d like to read along at home, the full run of Starlog is available over at the Internet Archive, and here are the previous installments of this series.
1. Civil Trek Convention Infighting, and Space-Rockin’.
So long as humans get together, there’s going to be squabbling and disagreements, and that’s no less true for conventions. The ISTC in question is the International Star Trek Convention, which ran for a few years in the mid-seventies, and having re-read the article in question from Starlog #003, I have to admit, I’m still baffled by just what her complaint is. But that’s also kind of the point, I suppose; this is some seriously inside-baseball stuff, and there were few other forums available.
What strikes me about this letter, though, is how civil it turns in the last paragraph. Even after basically calling Starlog distasteful, and calling out Joan Winston for not mentioning the wrong people (or something), she then makes sure there’s no hard feelings, and that she likes all parties involved. Oh, such a bygone time it was.
And Ms. Winston’s reply is just as cordial.
In another example of a bygone time, this prog-rocker lists some of the more famous sci-fi bands – and also Synergy. I’m not the biggest fan of prog-rock, but I read a lot of music history, and I’ve never heard of them before now.
Apparently this New Yorker (who is still space-rockin’ to this very day on YouTube!) was not the only person to write about sci-fi in rock music, and I’m not the only person to enjoy the back covers of the last few issues.
2. Shatner on Tour, and the Shuttle Enterprise Prepares for Nothing in Particular.
Did you catch Shatner on tour last year? I did (and wrote about it for SF Weekly), and he did not disappoint. For a man of 80, he still has a lot of energy, though probably not as much as he did during his mid-seventies tour. The reading of Bradbury’s “Earthbound” was captured for the ages on the record Captain of the Starship.
Could you just walk into any record store and buy Captain of the Starship? Heck no!
And, speaking of that starship:
The Enterprise gets tiles for at least one hundred re-entries from space, of which it will do exactly none. The neato picture does remind me of the original teaser trailer for the 2009 Star Trek, with all the sweaty guys and the sparks and stuff. But at least that ship managed to make it into space, and everyone agreed on the name. (More on that later.)
3. The Only 1977 Twentieth Century Fox Sci-Fi Films You Need to Know About.
Tidbits about the still-mysterious Star Wars had cropped up in the last few issues, and the film was two months away from being released by the time issue #005 hit the stands, but the movie is entirely absent from the article entitled “Twin 20th Releases for SF Fans.” Fox and friends were clearly very nervous about the movie (as evidenced by the teaser trailer, which looks questionable and sounds all wrong without John Williams’ score), but they had much higher hopes for Ralph Bakshi’s now-retitled Wizards.
It was already in theaters by the time this issue hit the stands, and the purporter isn’t wrong about it being a warm-up for his Lord of the Rings, as Wizards does feature many of the worst excesses of that film. (I’m not a fan, is what I’m saying.) It’s adorable that they really thought that Bakshi would be able to do the whole trilogy, though.
And speaking of movies with names that keep changing –
It would be officially re-re-titled Damnation Alley by the time it came out on October 21. And, remember, those giant cockroaches? Carefully researched, and totes possible.
4. It’s All Part of my Star Trek Fantasy.
Just a nice 28″ x 20″ poster, available for a mere $3.60 from the Starlog Poster Gallery. Starlog was heavily into merch at the point, and good for them on that.
5. Star Trek vs. Censorship, Round 1.
In this issue’s column, David Gerrold talks about the religious controversies surrounding the animated Star Trek episode “The Magicks of Megas-Tu,” as well as his own episode “BEM.” There were both complaints after the episodes aired, as well as by the network, nervously cutting out things that might have riled up the easily-riled.
The animated Trek is treated somewhat unfairly as a joke these days, and there’s a mention above of Shatner having little love for it, but Mr. Gerrold always took it seriously; quite frankly, if it weren’t worth taking seriously, nobody would have cared that it used devilish imagery.
6. Nothing About Star Wars, but At Least There’s…
WAR IN SPAAAAAACE!!! In my head, I hear Mel Brooks saying it, cf. Jews in Space, though the “Pigs in Space” cadence from The Muppet Show is also acceptable.
Anyway, when Time got around to doing an article about it in the October 17, 1977 issue, they had the advantage of being able to reference the obvious: “The Soviets have developed a ‘hunter-killer’ satellite, straight from Star Wars, that can track down orbiting U.S. spacecraft – and wipe them out.” Further unneeded evidence that that movie changed everything, and changed it fast.
7. Hey, Read Something Else!
A full-page ad for Trek: The Magazine for Star Trek Fans. I’ve never laid eyes on a copy of this magazine in my life, but I feel like I already know it by heart anyway, since I read and re-read the Best of Trek compilations frequently as a kid. Between those and David Gerrold’s book about the making of The Trouble with Tribbles, they instilled a love of non-fiction that’s with me to this day. And it’s also how I became aware of the fact that fans have this tendency to not get along with each other, and that many people felt that “Trekkie” was a slur compared to “Trekker.” I lost my innocence that day.
8. The 3-D House of View-Masters.
The coverage of 3-D from the previous issue continues, this time with a whole heck of lot of technical information about the various processes. Also, how to look at pictures in 3-D using nothing but YOUR OWN EYES! And possibly a mirror. There was the Cross-Eyed Method…
…the Mirror Method (which, let’s face it, is cheating)…
…and the Drift Method.
Hey, if you were looking at picture of Tokyo, would it be a Tokyo Drift? (Ba-boom! Thanks, I’ll be here all week! Tip your waitress!)
Of the many diagrams and technical schematics, this is the only one I can really wrap my head around – hey, those are shapes! I recognize shapes – and it includes the return of our old pal The Fantastic Invasion of Planet Earth.
And, as if it weren’t bad enough that they have hunter-killer satellites, the Russians also have 70mm film stock. Shit’s gettin’ real!
9. Please, Please, Please Stop Asking Us for Addresses.
In an attempt to get people to stop asking Starlog for mailing addresses of shows and their stars, they begin printing that information regularly. This particular issue was just TV shows. Some are familiar, some not so much.
It’s times like this, when I read the words Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot, that I curse Fresno television in the 70s and 80s. How I have never heard of this show before now? (As if it wasn’t bad enough that Channel 26 only showed Star Trek once a week, on Saturday mornings at 9am.) It’s some classic giant robot vs. monsters action!
10. Art of Spaaaaaace!
This is the first issue to have cover art that wasn’t related to a particular science fiction show, but rather was just plain ol’ science. Spacescapes, to be precise, and the main feature was an interview with artist Don Dixon. The paintings really are quite lovely, and hundreds of them are viewable on his website, Cosmographica. (Sadly, I was not able to find the above colony picture.)
11. Sound in Spaaaaaace!
Or, at least, if there was sound in space, this is what it would, um, sound like. The 1974 Outer Space / Inner Mind is actually a repackaging of Leonard Nimoy’s first two records, 1967’s Leonard Nimoy Presents Mr. Spock’s Music From Outer Space and 1968’s Two Sides of Leonard Nimoy. The fact that the show’s ratings were low didn’t keep it from spawning records and other ancillary products, which is just how the biz worked in those days. (Also, between this and the View-Master slides used above, that was evidently a popular angle for pictures of Enterprise models.) Outer Space / Inner Mind doesn’t feature everyone’s favorite “The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins,” which I’m sure someone will kindly post in the comments, but it does have this:
(The animation is a little more recent, obviously.)
The Batman record in question is one of the many great read-along records that the decade produced – more on those in a later article.
12. Some Utterly Shocking Star Trek News .
No! Say it ain’t so! (Okay, I’m a little surprised that Roddenberry wasn’t behind the letter-writing campaign, though I also wouldn’t be surprised if he engineered it, then disavowed knowledge.)
And if that isn’t hard enough to believe…
Script problems on what would eventually become Star Trek: The Motion Picture! Unable to decide between a new series and a new movie, at this point, the official decision was to do both, kinda – a movie followed by a series of, at the very least, TV-movies. Paramount would keep changing its mind for the next year or so, but for sure, original ship designer Matthew Jeffries was at work on redesign sketches in June of that year.
13. Star Trek vs. Censorship, Round 2.
So, the syndicated live-action series had its censorship problems, too, mostly around anything that smacked of that deeply 1970s concept of the “occult.”
Also, there was too much of a certain kind of thing around in those days.
Starlog‘s editors, no fools they, decided to make sure their readers knew exactly which Orion Slave Girl sequence was cut.
Oh, that one. Thanks, guys!
14. The Vernacular of Teeny-Bopper Groupies, and Tell David Gerrold to Stop Being Such a Smartypants!
I imagine so much facepalming at the Starlog offices.
Now, in his debut column in the previous issue, David Gerrold, says this about 2001: A Space Odyssey:
So here’s a tid-bit concerning the film 2001 for you to dwell upon. It isn’t explained in the film, but when you know this fact your whole perspective on it may be altered.
You’ve probably seen the movie. Remember when the ape throws the bone into the air and it becomes a spaceship? Remember the scene shows several orbiting craft, all with flags painted on them?
Fact: The first craft is not a spaceship, and neither are any of those other orbiting pieces of hardware. They’re bombs. All of the space vehicles seen before Space Station 5 appears have flags on them, and all of them are orbiting bombs. (Ask Kubrick. He’ll confirm it.)
Though Kubrick may or may not have directly confirmed it, since he was reluctant to confirm or deny any interpretations of his films, Mr. Gerrold’s interpretation is very much correct. (Not that he needs me to tell him that!) It’s backed up by not only in the records of the making of the film itself, but at 15:46 in the short documentary “2001: A Space Odyssey – The Making of a Myth,” writer Arthur C. Clarke confirms it.
However, this gentleman from New York took great offense not so much at Mr. Gerrold’s interpretation, but the fact that he would dare to make it.
Yikes! Okay, then. Obviously he can’t be blamed for not necessarily being privy to the same insider information that Mr. Gerrold might have been, and the documentary I cited above wouldn’t exist for another couple decades, but he gets so angry about someone else defending a movie that he himself does not care for! I can also imagine him overhearing a Star Wars fan referring to Darth Vader as a Dark Lord of the SIth, and telling the fan, “That’s just your opinion! of what Darth Vader is!” In any event, the arbitrary (and possibly, but not necessarily, facetious) xenophobia he exhibits will also crop up in his second letter in this issue.
15. Space Nineteen Ninety-Why?
Our 2001 contrarian has a thing or two to say about the subject.
Well, the British screenwriters kinda sorta had been doing it, since this letter was written in the middle of Tom Baker’s run as the Fourth Doctor, but he would have to wait another year for Doctor Who to hit American shores.
Fittingly enough for someone so outspoken in his views, this gentleman went on to have a career of his own as a science fiction novelist himself in the 1980s. Considering the force of his personality, I’ll bet they’re exciting reads.
16. But If You Are Disappointed, You Won’t Get Your Money Back.
According to Mike Ashley’s Gateways to Forever: The Story of Science-Fiction Magazines (pshaw, what a silly topic to write about!), AWR stands for Alternate World Recordings, which specialized in spoken-word science fiction. They’ve fallen deep into obscurity now, with only a few of their releases listed on their Discogs page, and as near as I can tell Harlan Ellison discusses them to some extent in this lo-fi podcast interview from 2006, though I haven’t listened to the whole thing.
But I’d wager the records weren’t quite as popular as the pictures, and the Barbarian Warrior Woman “dressed for action” was probably a bigger seller than the Flesh Gordon pictures, since most kids would have easier time getting away with putting Mr. Fong’s work over their bed. Just a hunch, anyway.
17. Remember the title is Survival Run. Seriously. F’reals..
Okay, I lied last time when I said that #005’s back cover would feature a different, non-KISS band. That band won’t actually show up until #006; for now, it’s a picture of the only young hero of a science fiction movie that Twentieth Century Fox wants you to care about. There are absolutely not any other young towheads acting as an audience surrogate in one of Fox’s sci-fi flicks this year, that’s for sure.
And remember: It’s called Survival Run. Got that? Survival Run. Accept no substitutes.
Coming Up in Starlog #006:
Damnation Alley Survival Run Damnation Alley is overtaken by Star Wars, the animated Star Trek gets some love, and Starlog contributes to the homosexual problem.
Previously by Sherilyn Connelly:
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