OpinionStarlog Tribute

Announcing Our Tribute: A Look Back at STARLOG

When I was younger — ahem — I was, like many of you, an avid reader of Starlog Magazine. It was the go-to source for any and all information about the latest Star Trek movies, the Alien franchise, new Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica info, and so much more.

For many of us, Starlog was the reason we got into the business of telling stories, making movies, and trying to entertain an audience. For others, it was a source for “insider information” that made us smarter and “in the know” when we were discussing what new adventure was in store for Indiana Jones and Batman. For me, it was a way to connect with my favorite story universes in a way that made me appreciate the craft of storytelling, the details of filmmaking, and it very much influenced my own decisions when lining up a career. While I may have started out in radio, there was always the appeal of the world that Starlog showed me.

It was, to turn a phrase, fascinating.

Starlog began life in 1976, with the intent of being a salute to Star Trek, but as things moved forward, the book evolved to have a broader focus. Norman Jacobs and Kerry O’Quinn put together that first issue, which had an episode guide for Star Trek along with cast interviews, but also featured articles on The Man Who Fell To EarthSpace: 1999, remakes of King Kong, and a preview of the horror film Squirm.

The book, as we know, was a success, enough to justify launching the title as a regular publication edited by David Houston, followed by Howard Zimmerman and then David McDonnell, who would shepherd the book from issue 66 all the way to the end. Starlog would grow to be the definitive genre news outlet for an entire generation (or two) with its coverage of film and television, books, comics, horror, with the usual collection of cartoons by Hembeck and the brain-teaser puzzles.

The final published issue was #374, with a cover date of April 2009. Ten years ago. Since then, there have been attempts to reboot the magazine online, but financial woes took their toll, and promises went unfulfilled. Starlog faded off into the sunset with the rise of other media sites that cover science fiction and fantasy.

And while Fangoria has returned to publication in a quarterly print magazine, there are currently no plans to revive the Starlog title, although a little birdie told me that there are “conversations just getting started” on that front. That’s not to say that anyone has decided it’s worth the effort. The new owners at Cinestate are being very careful not to bite off more than they can chew. And that’s a good thing. Right now, their focus is on Fangoria, and they’re making every effort to put out a smashing great book every three months.

But in the meantime, I thought it would be nice to take a look back and see if I could gain some insights into what made Starlog tick back in the day. Over the next few weeks, SciFi4Me will publish interviews and opinion pieces from people who were there, and people who were influenced by Starlog. Names that some of you know (just wait till we start dropping the interviews we have!), and some names that might not be as familiar.

Starlog, along with the original Sci Fi Channel, is in the DNA of SciFi4Me. When I first launched the site ten years ago, I wanted it to be a sort of hybrid that delivered news and video programming, opinions, interviews, and the like. I still pull out the random issue to take a look at how it was done. I tell the volunteers here, “I want us to be more like Starlog.” Some of them get it. The young whippersnappers will eventually catch up.

Now, to be clear, what we’re doing this month is not a revival of Starlog.

We don’t own it. We don’t work there. We don’t have a claim on that book. This is, instead, a tribute to that magazine and its sister publications. It’s a salute to everyone who worked there, who brought us profiles of celebrities, behind-the-scenes set visits, in depth looks at concept art and production design and music and costumes and screenwriting.

I hope you enjoy reading these articles as much as we enjoyed putting them together. For some of us, this is a walk down memory lane. For some of you, it may be the beginning of a whole new journey of discovery. If you’re not familiar with Starlog, you should be, and you can read all of the original run here. Without the Starlog Group titles, fandom would be a very different place right now.

— Jason P Hunt

Jason P. Hunt

Jason P. Hunt (founder/EIC) is the author of the sci-fi novella "The Hero At the End Of His Rope". His short film "Species Felis Dominarus" was a finalist in the Sci Fi Channel's 2007 Exposure competition.

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