Starlog: The Magazine That Boldly Went Where No Magazine Had Gone Before

The other week, I was randomly surfing the Internet Archive when I came across a huge surprise. Starlog magazine was on the Internet Archive! At one time, Starlog had been my all-time favorite magazine. It was the magazine I haunted the magazine racks for. I always read it completely cover to cover. Packed away, I have every issue from number one to about issue number 325 when it became hard to get in my area of the country. Every issue that is except issue number five which my Sister was supposed to buy for me but never did. Still have not forgiven her.

Starlog magazine was a monthly Science Fiction magazine. Its first issue was published in August 1976 and its last print issue came in April 2009. That is 33 years of printed publication covering everything Science Fiction and Fantasy but focusing on SFF movies. Starlog was created by publishers Kerry O’Quinn and Norman Jacobs. Originally, O’Quinn’s idea was to produce a one-time only magazine on the Star Trek phenomenon. They decided to add an episode guide (and believe me, episode guides were hard to come by back then), as well as interviews with the original Star Trek TV cast, and previously unseen photos. Gene Roddenberry, Star Trek’s Great Bird of the Galaxy aka Star Trek’s legendary creator, approved of the magazine idea but Paramount Studios, who actually owned the rights to Star Trek, wanted “a minimum royalty that was greater than their projected net receipts and the project was shelved”. Then O’Quinn came up with an idea to get around the question of royalties: “create a magazine that only featured Star Trek content but without it being the focus” and Starlog magazine was born.

Starlog was originally supposed to be a quarterly magazine but the first issue, which featured Captain Kirk, Mr. Spock, and the Starship Enterprise on the cover, sold out. O’Quinn and Jacobs quickly decided to publish every six weeks. Eventually, Starlog became a monthly magazine. While Starlog was devoted to Science Fiction movies, TV series, and books, much of the focus was on movies. “Starlog was one of the first publication to report on the development of the first Star Wars movie, and it also followed the development of what was to eventually become Star Trek: The Motion Picture”.

Starlog’s 100th was published in November 1985. Its 30th anniversary issue came in 2006. In 2008, Starlog’s publisher filed for bankruptcy and was sold to a company run by the longtime president of Starlog’s sister magazine, Fangoria. Starlog’s print magazine closed down in April 2009 with issue number 374. In April 2014, Fangoria announced that Starlog would relaunch its website and digital magazine. There are recent articles at starlog.com such as a review of the new series pilot, The Man in the High Castle, based on the Philip K. Dick book and adapted for Amazon Prime. But there is really not a whole lot there yet. Hopefully, this new Starlog will pick up popularity and become the industry leader the old print magazine once was.

Besides Starlog magazine, O’Quinn and Jacobs also published many other genre magazines including: Fangoria, CineMagic, Comics Scene, Future Life, Starlog Poster Magazine, and many others. They also published monthly magazines dedicated to each of the Star Treks such as: Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek: Voyager. They also produced books, videos, Science Fiction conventions, and much more.

The Internet Archive has tons of Starlog stuff. There is a home page which acts like a doorway to the world of Starlog. Here fans can read a brief history, see what has been added, and find out which issue of Starlog is the most downloaded (currently, Starlog magazine issue number 001 with more than 5,000 downloads). The Internet Archive also has every single Starlog issue from number 001 to number 265. Every. Single. One. I know. I checked. And I just had to reread a few articles. Okay, a lot of articles in a lot of issues. There are also some great books: Starlog Presents: The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Journal, Starlog Presents: The Official Star Wars Technical Journal, Vol. 1: The Planet Tatooine, Starlog Presents: The Official Star Wars Technical Journal, Vol. 2: The Imperial Forces, and Starlog Presents: The Official Star Wars Technical Journal, Vol. 3: The Rebel Forces.

So, besides nostalgia, why would any modern SFF fans be interested in reading 30 year old magazines? Well, first, Starlog was a great magazine. It was one of the first magazines that allowed fans to look behind the scenes of upcoming movies, television shows, and even books. It presented interviews from all corners of SFF including actors, directors, special effects people, authors, artists, and many more. While the internet of today makes finding some current day stuff relatively easy, that was not the case in the 1970s, 1980s, and 1990s. Starlog and her sister magazines was often the only way fans could find news and information. I remember that the very first time I saw a photo of one of my favorite authors, Andre Norton, was in the pages of Starlog magazine.

But also, those old issues of Starlog can still resonate with modern readers and events. For instance, actor Robin Williams recently died but you can revisit a younger, more vibrant Williams by reading an interview with him as he talks about his then new career and popularity in Starlog issue number 224. The Syfy channel has a new series called 12 Monkeys and fans can go to Starlog issue number 222 to read about the original 12 Monkeys movie from 1995. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is an important actor in recent and upcoming genre movies and in Starlog issue number 244 fans can read about his early career on TV’s Third Rock from the Sun. There is a new Jurassic Park blockbuster movie coming out soon, Jurassic World, and if fans go to Starlog issue number 192 they can read an interview with author Michael Crichton and his views on his prehistoric novel and the original movie. There is a new The Flash TV series and fans can go to Starlog issue number 160 to read about the The Flash TV show of 1990.

Starlog magazine helped shape the careers and views of many SFF artists and fans. Science Fiction and Fantasy movies and books would not be the booming business they are today without Starlog magazine and its sister publications, all of which helped provide a voice for the fans and let industry insiders know that there was a need  and money waiting to be spent. There might never have been Star Trek: The Motion Picture or any of the many other Star Trek variations without Starlog magazine to help direct the dreams, efforts, and, of course, the spending money of the fans. I loved Starlog magazine. I almost never missed an issue. I hope the new digital magazine blooms and continues to grow in popularity. And I am hugely glad that the Internet Archive has all these Starlog issues for me to revisit.

Starlog’s home page on the Internet Archive can be found here. The key to finding individual issues of Starlog magazine is to just follow this simple pattern: archive.org/starlog_magazine-XXX and just type numbers in place of the XXX. For example, if you want Starlog issue number 1 type in 001 in place of the XXX. For Starlog issue number 213, type 213 in place of the XXX. Starlog issues 1 – 265 are available.

The Internet Archive also has a few Starlog Technical Manuals: Starlog Presents: The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Journal,  Starlog Presents: The Official Star Wars Technical Journal, Vol. 1: The Planet Tatooine, Starlog Presents: The Official Star Wars Technical Journal, Vol. 2: The Imperial Forces, and Starlog Presents: The Official Star Wars Technical Journal, Vol. 3: The Rebel Forces.

Starlog’s sister magazine, CineMagic, is also at the Internet Archive. Just follow the pattern similar to Starlog: archive.org.details/CineMagicXXX. Replace the XXX with the number of the issue you want. For example for CineMagic issue number 1 type 001 in place of XXX. For CineMagic issue number 30 just type 030. CineMagic issues number 1 – 36 are available. Issues 29, 31, 32 are missing.

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