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?
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:
So, kudos to them!
2. Which Glorious New Space-Fantasy?
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!
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.
Meanwhile, a Texan is getting sick ‘n tired of Starlog giving equal space to both good and bad science fiction.
“…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.
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.”
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.
6. The Funniest Headline of 1977.
Oh, grow up.
7. Just Like Star Wars, This Movie Is Finally Out, Too! Yay?
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
…which, lest we forget, has never, ever been done before.
11. Cartoon Break!
Just a silly little cartoon they included as filler, presumably, but it’s War of the Worlds, so I like it. Also, I must implore young men not to look to closely at the gentleman’s chest or imagine under his towel, lest they subject themselves to sexual problems.
13. Cyanotype Goodness
The FREE Blueprints!!! promised on the cover were a fold-out section containing blueprints of the ships used on Space: 1999. They weren’t included in this scan of the magazine, but the primary article was printed in blinding blue, just because.
14. Your Tax Dollars at Work.
Quite frankly, if we could choose how our tax dollars were spent, I would absolutely want it going toward the original shooting model of the Enterprise hanging in the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. (I’m sure somebody else will be more than happy to pay the guns and bombs.)
The model is now mounted in a much lower glass case in the Museum Store (but not for sale, presumably). Having never actually been to our Nation’s capitol, I still haven’t seen the model in person, but it’s my first stop if I ever make it to the District of Columbia. To figure out the best way to mount the model while causing the least amount of stress, the Smithsonian did an X-Ray analysis of the ship, and it’s every bit as neat as you might expect.
As well it should, the Air and Space Museum also included plenty of non-make-believe items. I know that when I finally make to the Museum, in addition to the Enterprise, I’mma gonna check out the Urine Collection and Transfer Assembly, which I’m sure must still be on display.
15. David Gerrold Makes a Whole Bunch of Banana Jokes.
In one of his less cranky columns, David Gerrold describes how he took the gig of writing the novelization of Battle for the Planet of the Apes mostly so he could talk his way into being an ape in the movie. He also makes many references to bananas – much to the future chagrin of Mojo, who would go on to debunk that misconception at 2:01 into this episode.
As mentioned, Planet of the Apes still had a devoted fanbase at this point. In John Stanley’s low-budget Nightmare in Blood, shot around at this time, many of the young attendees of a horror convention are wearing Apes masks. It was just what you did. (This video is very safe for work.)
16. Bobby “Boris” Pickett Takes it to the People.
Like so many other ancillary Trek products, the “Monster Mash” guy’s HILARIOUS 45rpm Single Record SPOOF was not available in stores. (Probably.) But it is available on YouTube, minus his autograph.
17. More Blueprints of Things that Don’t Exist.
They’re authentic, too! Even better, the freighter is from the animated series, meaning a model was never even built for filming.
18. Robby, Through the Ages.
Sort of like a blueprint (it’s on blue paper, anyway) is this early sketch of what would eventually become Robby the Robot.
Robby with two of my favorite craggly guys: Peter Falk as Columbo, and Dick Miller as Walter Paisley in Hollywood Boulevard.
18. Dead Kings, and Too Many Nimoy Records.
My first thought when I saw this classified ad was “Wow, someone’s already capitalizing on Elvis’s death two months before he died!” Then I saw “World Trade Center death-scene” and thought, “They also predicted 9/11!” Then I realized that it was in reference to the filming of the climax of the ’76 King Kong. Oh. That’s not nearly as fun.
Fantascene, which can be totally forgiven for still calling it The Star Wars at this point, was a fairly high-quality fanzine by Robert and Dennis Stotak, would go on to do special effects work for Roger Corman, James Cameron, and many others. Also, the cover of the very first issue of Fantascene features a ship from War of the Worlds, so they get even more points for that.
More from the people who put out the spoken-word records advertised in Starlog #005. I appreciate that so much valuable classified space is given over to advertise the original Rocky Horror Show cast album (the movie version, The Rocky Horror Picture Show, hadn’t yet caught on as a cult hit by this point), and if I could find a copy of that SF Sound Effects Record, I would totally play it on my radio show.
Between this and the larger, mid-magazine ad that had been running in the past few issues, I can only assume that Starlog somehow acquired a backlog of this record, and was desperate to move them. It’s rare and out-of-print, and most importantly, it featured showtunes! I can’t imagine why they were having trouble selling this to teenage boys in 1977.
Coming up in Starlog #008: Harlan Ellison out-grumbles David Gerrold, more Star Wars, and the abyss of Saturday Morning TV.
Previously by Sherilyn Connelly: