Wednesday, September 08, 2010
So long, Starlog, and thanks for all the fish
Another item from the Drafts bin. When Starlog ceased publication in April 2009, I had intended to write a short retrospective about it. I started writing this draft posting and gave it a suitably geeky cliche title (see above). I did not get around to finishing it.
I only needed to wait 17 months and, look, today James Maliszewski posted his own retrospective article on Grognardia, written more eloquently than I would have. Maliszewski's opinions match my own, more or less, although I do miss the magazine more than he does. Rather, I miss the idea of Starlog more than the print magazine, at least the way it was in the 70s/80s. I haven't picked one up since the very early 90s. By then there were more outlets for fandom information, and Starlog became more slick and glossy but with less substance -- much in the same way that Entertainment Tonight and Access Hollywood used to report on film production news.
I liked the homegrown fanzine feel of the early issues. A large percentage of pages were given over to classic Golden Age sci-fi and fantasy then, with the sort of articles that you now only see in Filmfax. I remember the multi-issue serialization of "Who Goes There?" by John W. Campbell, Jr. and part of David Gerrold's first Chtorr book.
Another important aspect of Starlog was its use as a source for new sci-fi and fantasy movie news. An issue might have one or two still photos and a short article on the making of a new movie, and then we would have to wait another month for more news, another still or some production art. Quite a contrast from today, when any leaked movie news is blogged, Flickr'd or Tweeted around the world almost instantly. It's great having more and more fan news available, but I believe we may have lost something special in the process.
As noted in the comments for that story on Grognardia, blogger John Z. has been reviewing every issue of Starlog -- take a look at the archive for The Starlog Project.