Starlog Magazine
April 3, 2013 3:24 PM   Subscribe

Attention fellow aging gen-X geeks: the archives of Starlog magazine are now online.

Want to see what some of the biggest sf hits and flops from the late seventies to the mid-nineties looked like from the far side, months before they arrived? Want to dream of pie-in-the-sky projects that never came to be?* Want to read interviews with people you will find interviewed nowhere else? Here is your chance!

*I still recall the creepy production stills for Cry of Cthulhu and the concept art for Childhood's End.
posted by ricochet biscuit (59 comments total) 53 users marked this as a favorite
 
FUCK YEAH!
posted by Pirate-Bartender-Zombie-Monkey at 3:31 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmm, my plan to sell my hundreds of old Starlog magazines has met an unexpected hitch. Still, I look forward to whiling away a few hours here! Thanks!
posted by Admiral Haddock at 3:31 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


Excellent! [Air guitar]
posted by Kabanos at 3:38 PM on April 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


I never read the magazine very often, but the Starlog store was my second-favorite shop at the Mall of America, back when there was a Starlog store at the Mall of America.
posted by ckape at 3:41 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hell yeah! I missed a bunch of them when I was a kid. This was like the best magazine back then.
posted by midnightscout at 3:41 PM on April 3, 2013


This is all we had before the Internet, kids.
posted by entropicamericana at 3:58 PM on April 3, 2013 [6 favorites]


I remember buying this from the first issue, when I was eleven. I bought and pored over them religiously probably until I was about 16 or so. Growing up the 70s in a tiny northern Canada town with 2 radio and 2 TV stations (until we started pirating and rebroadcasting satellite TV as a community, which now that I think of it, probably had some formative influence on my attitudes toward that sort of thing) was living a starvation diet for mental stimulation.

So long ago.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 4:21 PM on April 3, 2013


Thanks ... that will keep me busy for the Rest of my Life ...
posted by homodigitalis at 4:31 PM on April 3, 2013


a Starlog store

...what? That cannot go unexplained. I demand to know more of your experiences in the store. Yes, I know. Google.

Fuck Google.

Tell me! Tell me, damn you!
(shakes his frozen-thank-god-EPSB-libraries-carried-starlog-and-the-others-juvenile-fist)
posted by aramaic at 4:32 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


SQUEEEEEEEE
posted by wittgenstein at 4:38 PM on April 3, 2013


Oh, the memories! I'm pretty sure I still have a few original issues in a box somewhere at my mom's house.
posted by mogget at 4:40 PM on April 3, 2013


For many years, one of my most prized possessions was Starlog #200 (March 1994) -- not because it was a special-edition gold-holographic-foil collectible, but because it contained their exhaustive (and still relevant!) list of the 200 most important people in SF. I'd already been an avid Starlog reader for a few years at that point, but for a sixteen-year-old kid growing up pre-Internet it was like being handed the full syllabus for a lifelong course in Science Fiction Appreciation. When I finally got access to a real collegiate library (as well as a real college-town video store) a couple of years later, that issue became my "must-read"/"must-watch" list. Those were exciting times to be an SF nerd...
posted by Strange Interlude at 4:41 PM on April 3, 2013


Oh... I was thinking of starlord. That's a bit disappointing.
posted by biffa at 4:51 PM on April 3, 2013


Actually, now that I have squeeed, people should recommend specific issues, since there are so many. For instance, many early issues contain episode guides (THE INVADERS is in issue 16; I have already downloaded it) and the earliest issues contained much detail about the second season of Space:1999 as well as articles about its cancellation.
posted by wittgenstein at 4:53 PM on April 3, 2013


This means I can put those posters of Data and Counselor Troi back on my bedroom wall, right?

Anytime I found a copy of Star Log at the B. Dalton in the mall was a total coup. The internet makes feelings like that obsolete, which is a bittersweet thing, to me.
posted by Sara C. at 4:54 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Hmmm, it looks like Starlog does not have pull-out Star Trek posters. I guess for that I'm thinking of the Star Trek magazine that also existed, and which also made me extremely happy when I happened to track one down at the mall.
posted by Sara C. at 5:00 PM on April 3, 2013


Oh. Oh, my.

I can remember buying Starlog issue #10 (with the awesome George Pal "When Worlds Collide") cover, getting to page 26, and just about dying of a heart attack at the ripe old age of 10 because THERE WAS A NEW KIDS' SCI-FI SERIES COMING TO TV.

And, yes, I do have the complete run of both Space Academy and Jason of Star Command on DVD, thanks for asking.
posted by hanov3r at 5:11 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh man. I had cut out pictures from Starlog plastered all over my bedroom walls as a kid. As said above, that magazine is what we had before the Internet.
posted by octothorpe at 5:16 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


And now, thanks to the yellow pages pullout in issue 10, I've learned that the Federation Trading Post that I remember visiting in NYC has long since been torn down, and the west coast version that I never got to in Berkeley is now a Japanese restaurant. *sigh*
posted by hanov3r at 5:18 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Dare I hope they might put up archives of CineMagic as well? Same publisher ....
posted by webmutant at 5:28 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


As with OMNI, it always painted what was to come as a paradise. The first issue I opened at random here, #18 (the second one I ever bought, as I recall), contains a piece reading in part:
For years, stalwart science fiction writers have been moaning about the puerile SF antics put forth via Hollywood. Grown authors have been known to weep at the sight of giant pieces of cheese chasing half-clad heroines around bowling alleys and oversized actors grunting over cardboard models of the city of New York on the silver screen. Well, after years of suffering, a handful of science fiction's finest has decided to do something right to the "schlock system."

Lester Goldsmith, a former story development editor at Paramount Pictures, has set up Limelight Films, an organization dedicated to developing at least 12 high-caliber, [sic] science-fiction films. Joining Goldsmith in this endeavor will be such SF greats as Isaac Asimov, Harry Harrison, Brian W. Aldiss, Arthur C. Clarke, Robert Sheckley, J.G. Ballard, A.E. Van Vogt, Robert Heinlein, Hal Clement, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle and Joe Haldeman."

That is presumably this Lester Goldsmith, who had exactly one credit -- his second -- after this article was written, as associate producer on the eminently forgettable Anthony Quinn-James Mason WWII drama The Passage. The article goes on to mention Asimov's Bicentennial Man, which would be made 21 years later with Mork from Ork) and The Stainless Steel Rat, which would be made never. In fact, of that whole baker's dozen of authors, some would never see anything of theirs get adapted to screen, some had their great moments behind them already (2001, Soylent Green) and some have had some deeply dubious achievements since 1978 (Robot Jox, Freejack) and the only author there who has seen a genuine major movie get made from his works is Brian Aldiss (A.I., but he had written the source short story in the sixties).

Still, it sounded great then.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:59 PM on April 3, 2013


I just noticed that these can be downloaded as epubs! iPad (with Marvin) ahoy!

I am torn now whether I should spend the time to grab them one by one, or just wait for the inevitable torrent compendium.
posted by stavrosthewonderchicken at 6:17 PM on April 3, 2013


One thing that strikes, me skimming through these, is how expensive media used to be. They're selling Star Trek:TNG videotapes for $5 per episode, which I remember seemed hopelessly expensive when I was 11 years old, but seem crazytown now, when you can watch the whole series online for under $15/month (along with an entire video store's worth of anything else you want to watch).

Even if for some reason somebody wanted to download each episode via iTunes or Amazon, it would be about a dollar or two per episode (at the going rate for newish TV downloads).

I also noticed a big ad for various movies you could order. Most titles are $19.95, and for the most part it's completely scummy "$3.99 bargain bin next to the cash register at CVS" titles, like Mac & Me and Tremors. The idea of someone paying almost twenty American dollars to own a VHS tape of Conan The Barbarian is fucking laughable.

And yet people ran successful businesses on this model twenty years ago.
posted by Sara C. at 6:27 PM on April 3, 2013


You must be looking at fairly late issues for those prices. Up until 1989 or so, videotapes were upwards of a hundred bucks each, as they were priced for video stores to buy them.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:30 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


webmutant: "Dare I hope they might put up archives of CineMagic as well? Same publisher ...."

That magazine was such an amazing resource for a kid like me stuck in a rural wasteland pre-internet. It also got 7th grade me sent home from school on Halloween and my mom called. My teachers didn't think my gelatin zombie makeup was appropriate. The intestines may have been a step too far.
posted by the_artificer at 6:31 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


ricochet biscuit -- yeah, this was an issue from 1990, and ads aimed at the consumer market (it's Starlog after all), not at video stores.

And, yes, I know that video tapes used to be priced more for rental and cost hundreds of dollars. I also remember the big controversy when DVD came out and the studios decided not to use any rental pricing structure at all, at any level, and the big chain video stores went apeshit because that was their whole angle (Blockbuster could afford 50 copies of the latest new release, whereas Mom & Pop's Video Emporium could not).
posted by Sara C. at 6:36 PM on April 3, 2013


I'd love to spin you enthralling stories of the Starlog store, but I never got to go there very often and my memories have faded over the years. It was a place that sold Sci-Fi memorabilia, much like the sort of things you'd see advertised in the pages of Starlog. I was just a poor highschooler at the time, so I think the only thing I ever bought there was a set of datasheets for some random Klingon ship.
posted by ckape at 6:52 PM on April 3, 2013


Oh, man, I found Starlog at the magazine rack in a local drugstore in the late 1970's and it was the awesomest awesome ever. Okay, not as awesome as OMNI, but it was up there for a young geek.
posted by rmd1023 at 6:55 PM on April 3, 2013


Screw it, I'm still putting my old late '70s Starlogs on Ebay. Paper rules, man.
posted by JJ86 at 7:05 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


What do you think a mint condition, bagged collection of every issue of star log is worth?
posted by jeffamaphone at 7:19 PM on April 3, 2013


I just noticed that these can be downloaded as epubs!

I wouldn't bother with the epubs -- I just downloaded the one for #112 (Star Trek 20th anniversary from 1986) and it looks like a typical batch-conversion job, just a jumble of text and partial images. The PDFs are the way to go here; the PDFs w/ text actually have a searchable OCR text layer on them. Now somebody needs to make a live-searchable database of every issue...
posted by Strange Interlude at 7:46 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Blast from the past! I'm glad these are out there and I also remember how exciting it was to get hold of Starlog when I was a wee lass.
posted by immlass at 8:00 PM on April 3, 2013


You must be looking at fairly late issues for those prices. Up until 1989 or so, videotapes were upwards of a hundred bucks each, as they were priced for video stores to buy them.

I can vouch for this; IIRC it was either E.T. or Top Gun that was the first major theatrical release to be priced at "sell-through" (i.e. less than $50 or so). In fact, E.T. didn't even appear on home video until six years after it debuted in theaters. It literally wasn't until the early '90s that actually buying and owning movies on VHS (as opposed to renting them or taping them off of TV) seemed like a normal thing to do for most people I knew. I remember watching the taped NBC version of Back to the Future and the CBS version of Pee Wee's Big Adventure probably at least 100 times each before it ever occurred to me that I might like to own them without commercials.
posted by Strange Interlude at 8:06 PM on April 3, 2013


Oooh. Man, junior highish, just pre-Internet, I went to a flea market with my grandmother and she bought me like three grocery bags of old issues of Starlog for a couple bucks. They ended up stored in the cellar, right next to a musty old couch, and I read them cover to cover for the next year or three. I learned so much about upcoming movies from three or five years earlier.

I am now nostalgic for the smell of musty basement and old sci-fi.
posted by The Man from Lardfork at 8:34 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


Oh, hot DAMN! I'm gonna go find that issue we read where, in the vast desert of sci-fi crap that was the mid-'70s, we saw this article about a movie coming up from the creator of THX-1198. "Hey, let's skip afternoon classes and go downtown and line up for the afternoon showing." Three showings that we sat through later, exhausted, happy, arms full of opening day swag, we were all awfully grateful to Starlog for telling us about Star Wars.
posted by emcat8 at 9:40 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Oh... I was thinking of starlord. That's a bit disappointing.

Not Starslayer, from whence GrimJack came? No? Never mind then...
posted by bongo_x at 9:48 PM on April 3, 2013


I had completely forgotten about Starlog. Combined with the recent OMNI post I’m having wee case of nostalgia. What the hell happened to the future?
posted by bongo_x at 9:50 PM on April 3, 2013


Is Logan's Run destined to be the greatest sci-fi movie of the decade? Find out inside!
posted by ShutterBun at 10:33 PM on April 3, 2013 [2 favorites]


I can vouch for this; IIRC it was either E.T. or Top Gun that was the first major theatrical release to be priced at "sell-through"

Sorta correct. E.T. was one of the earlier movies to debut as a sell-through title, owing to its delayed release. But by that time, sell-through prices on other blockbusters of the era (Star Wars, Raiders) were pretty ubiquitous.

1989's Batman was one of the first to quickly go from theatrical to sell-through in the same year.
posted by ShutterBun at 10:41 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


Starlog is all well and good, but where's the online archive of Comics Scene?
posted by MartinWisse at 11:30 PM on April 3, 2013


I also noticed a big ad for various movies you could order. Most titles are $19.95, and for the most part it's completely scummy "$3.99 bargain bin next to the cash register at CVS" titles, like Mac & Me and Tremors. The idea of someone paying almost twenty American dollars to own a VHS tape of Conan The Barbarian is fucking laughable.

But back then ... that was all we had. ALL WE HAD! *sobs inconsolably*

I used to own #1 through #50 or so. Sometime before eBay existed, I gave the whole kit and kaboodle away to a kid of a family friend. Only came to regret it many years later.

I am pretty sure that #7 was the one that some scoundrel stole from me, and of course in those days you had to actually send in to the publisher to buy back issues, and it was SOLD OUT.
posted by dhartung at 11:56 PM on April 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


OH HELLS YES

I want to re-read the editorial where Starlog asked its readers to boycott 'E.T.' because Spielberg wouldn't give them an exclusive or something.
posted by Legomancer at 4:55 AM on April 4, 2013


Is there a way to grab all of them at once?
posted by Legomancer at 5:15 AM on April 4, 2013


I can vouch for this; IIRC it was either E.T. or Top Gun that was the first major theatrical release to be priced at "sell-through" (i.e. less than $50 or so).

I was talking to a high school classmate of mine a while ago about this very thing because in the late eighties he was running a chain video store. He avers that it was Who Framed Roger Rabbit? that was the first release that the studios took a chance on releasing at a lower price (i.e. around twenty bucks), gambling that for families with kids it had a lot of rewatch value, then Batman which broke open the floodgates a few months later.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:37 AM on April 4, 2013


Is Logan's Run destined to be the greatest sci-fi movie of the decade? Find out inside!


The odd thing is that when I posted that utopian 1978 story about the imminent wave of wonderful sf movies from Asimov, Haldeman, Clarke and the rest, that -- while none of these would materialize quite as promised -- within the next five years audiences would get to see Alien, The Empire Strikes Back, Blade Runner and The Thing (as well as seeing E.T. become the mist successful movie EVAR).
posted by ricochet biscuit at 5:46 AM on April 4, 2013


I want to re-read the editorial where Starlog asked its readers to boycott 'E.T.' because Spielberg wouldn't give them an exclusive or something.

I remember that issue. I don't think they were suggesting a boycott, but just had some whingey editorial over the fact that they weren't getting special treatment. I think they ended with some over-the-top comment over how the whole magic of ET had been damaged as a result.

Starlog was my bible for many years, but there was always this sense of self-importance (I think the publisher's uncle's dog was allowed a regular editorial at one point...) attached to it which gradually made me lose interest.

Still, it hosted some great articles, such as James Cameron's responses to fan's comments on the plot of Aliens, plus an amazing plate of beans-level dissection of Back To The Future explaining how the first film created two Marty McFlys. I used to love all that stuff.
posted by panboi at 7:42 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is great, thank you. This magazine was a big part of my childhood in the '80s, when I sent away to a Starlog-listed address for the Starfleet officer's manual.

I recently bought some old issues on eBay. To young people: if you think the $20/VHS rates are outrageous, wait until you find one of the 1983 issues where they're selling video store-ready VHS tapes of The Legend of Greystoke for $89.95. This was all part of how impossible it used to be to have these sci-fi experiences without going to the theater.

I love how the back cover, for a while, was often used to promote either Kiss or the apparently related metal act Angel.

The reader letters are also amazing. There's one I just saw from the '70s where a homophobe attacks the magazine for putting a male nude on the front, saying that this could worsen such psychological problems as homosexuality among vulnerable young people. I know the editor was gay and wrote frankly in later years of listening to Arthur C. Clarke talk mischievously about his lusts, on a sea cruise.
posted by steinsaltz at 8:25 AM on April 4, 2013


there was always this sense of self-importance

Yeah, rereading a few issues, that really comes through. I was skimming bits of the big tribute they did for Gene Roddenberry after he died, and there's an article by the publisher wherein he describes their relationship as if they were total BFFs (he even used the phrase "soul mates"), but the actual anecdotes of times they spent together and quotes from Roddenberry he uses makes it clear that they were professional acquaintances at best. It was like the anti "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold".
posted by Sara C. at 9:32 AM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


panboi: ... an amazing plate of beans-level dissection of Back To The Future explaining how the first film created two Marty McFlys

Ah, that would be Issue #108. The article reads, in part:
Our mysterious voyager, the tale begins, appears in Back to the Future for just a fleeting second, on screen for only a handful of frames. Cast your thoughts back to the film … back to the parking lot at Twin Pines Mall. The terrorists have arrived, and they're aiming their machine guns right at Doc's heart. Their van is parked at the screen's left-hand side, and Doc is standing to the right, holding a pistol in his hand. He raises his arms into the air, and then, just behind Doc - between him and the truck - we can see a spot of light from one of the nearby stores. Watch that light.

At the very instant that Doc tosses his pistol to the ground (and all eyes in the audience are following its path across the pavement), a silhouetted figure steps into that light. Less than a second later, the figure is gone, Doc has been shot and the chase is on.

Who was that figure? Where did he come from? Why was he there?

The answer to the first question is easy: The figure was Marty McFly, of course.
The joys of owning the Blu-Ray show me that the ENTIRE BASIS OF THE ARTICLE is flawed - the "silhouetted figure" is, in fact, three people, walking in front of the mall off in the distance. And, obviously, not paying attention to the machine-gun-toting terrorists in their VW van in the parking lot.
posted by hanov3r at 10:38 AM on April 4, 2013 [3 favorites]


there was always this sense of self-importance

Yeah, rereading a few issues, that really comes through. I was skimming bits of the big tribute they did for Gene Roddenberry after he died, and there's an article by the publisher wherein he describes their relationship as if they were total BFFs (he even used the phrase "soul mates"), but the actual anecdotes of times they spent together and quotes from Roddenberry he uses makes it clear that they were professional acquaintances at best. It was like the anti "Frank Sinatra Has A Cold".


Out of curiosity, I looked up publisher Kerry O'Quinn's Wikipedia entry. (trigger warning: Objectivism!)
posted by Strange Interlude at 11:59 AM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


In 1989, my mom brought home THIS issue of Starlog that she'd picked up at a garage sale: http://starwars77-80.blogspot.com/2012/10/starlog-14-june-1978.html

The matte painters for Star Wars article got me interested in art, which is sorta what I still do today.
posted by thisisdrew at 1:11 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Most titles are $19.95, and for the most part it's completely scummy "$3.99 bargain bin next to the cash register at CVS" titles, like Mac & Me and Tremors.

You watch yer mouth. Tremors was and remains awesome in all formats.
posted by FatherDagon at 1:41 PM on April 4, 2013 [1 favorite]


Sure, it's a good movie and everything. But would you pay $19.95 to own it? Show your work.
posted by Sara C. at 1:49 PM on April 4, 2013


Collection link for those that want to look at them in order.

Now I've got to find the one that printed my name as a winner of a Scanners t-shirt.
posted by ChurchHatesTucker at 2:11 PM on April 4, 2013 [2 favorites]


I bought the original VHS release of Aliens when it first became available. Not cheap.

Starlog also did those special edition magazines (including an Aliens one) which were amazing things for the time - despite being printed on the crappiest quality paper available.
posted by panboi at 2:16 PM on April 4, 2013


I pay $20 for DVD’s all the time, because it’s a good deal. I watch it when I get around to it, then sell it, trade it, or keep it. On the other hand, I pay $24 a month for Netflix, watch about 3 or 4 DVD’s a year, and have only streamed 3 or 4 movies the entire time streaming has been available. Now that’s just dumb, but I keep doing it because it seems like it should be a good deal (and in fairness it was in the past).
posted by bongo_x at 3:59 PM on April 4, 2013


Sure, but think of how much more you get for even the most basic DVD than you did for a VHS priced similarly. (And $20 is the top end of DVD prices, big new releases the week they come out, Criterion Collection, glossy special editions, etc.)

I remember the onset of DVD and how amazing it seemed that for the same $15-20, you got a beautifully mastered digital copy (no tracking, no tinny sound, almost no chance the player'd eat it) packaged with a wealth of special features like commentary tracks, outtakes, deleted scenes, and all the stuff we take for granted now. You didn't even have to rewind it!

The second DVD hit the market, VHS looked like the worst.
posted by Sara C. at 5:02 PM on April 4, 2013


Also, you are getting ripped off with Netflix because you choose to. I pay like $8 a month and stream hours of programming every day. Maybe you should... cut back or something.
posted by Sara C. at 5:04 PM on April 4, 2013


Also, you are getting ripped off with Netflix because you choose to. I pay like $8 a month and stream hours of programming every day. Maybe you should... cut back or something.

I’m pretty sure I said that. Thanks for your concern though.
posted by bongo_x at 10:46 PM on April 4, 2013


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