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A Gallery of Starlog Photo Guidebooks

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When I was growing up in the 1970s, Starlog Magazine felt, without exaggeration, like a godsend.

There were other quality genre magazines out there too, of course (like Fantastic Films…), but few which had possessed the longevity, stability and depth of coverage readers could find in Starlog.

In the pre-Internet age, Starlog magazine was great for publishing news about upcoming science fiction films, television programs, and literature.  Many correspondents for Starlog went on to successful and even award-winning writing careers, and the magazine featured great interviews, retrospectives, illustrations and cover art. It was also, most of the time, a damn good read.

But there was another part of the Starlog Empire that I also loved for a different reason; for purposes of reference, you might say: The Photo Guidebooks.

For many years, Starlog published a series of heavily illustrated books on specific genre-related topics.

 

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For instance, there was a Photo Guidebook devoted to movie and TV aliens, and at least two editions of another great topic; movie and TV spaceships. The texts featured examples from productions that you might have missed, forgotten about, or wanted desperately to see.

I remember earmarking my copies of the Guidebooks on Robots, Weapons and “Fantastic Worlds” specifically. The entries were brief, but incredibly informative, and the pages upon pages of illustrations — some in color — were tantalizing.

The photo Guidebook series had an ambitious reach.  There was an edition published about science fiction toys, for example. There were several editions devoted to the art of special effects.

There was also another set too; one devoted to sci-fi heroes, its book-end to sci-fi villains.

But my favorites were undoubtedly the photo-guidebooks devoted to “episode guides” of classic and current TV series.

Very few writers in those pre-IMDB days were meticulously cataloging and recording for future scholarship episode titles and plot-lines (let alone focusing on things like “robots,” “spaceships” or “aliens,”) and so these books were a much-needed resource.

In the age of syndication, reruns and videotape, these episode guides made it possible to hunt down missing episodes of Space: 1999 (1975-1977), Logan’s Run (1977), The Six Million Dollar Man (1973-1978), or Buck Rogers (1979-1981). You could tally the ones you hadn’t seen, and know by the textual plot description which installment you were seeing.

Here’s a gallery of some great covers from the Starlog Photo Guidebook series.

 

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  • Klaus Gebhard

    I love these! I think I have most of them except for the 2 Special Effects and Space Art editions. One of these that wasn’t mentioned, and I believe it to be the last one to be offered? is the Starlog Fantastic 3-D edition? Also essential! I wish we could have known each other when were kids, John. We’re about the same age and we would have got along just fine! Thanks for the recent Shogun Warriors article! Great stuff! Were you into Micronauts and Battle of the Planets (Gatchaman)? Don’t get me started on Godzilla!

  • I had a bunch of these. My father ended up working with some of the Starlog folks, and he bought home a couple of these books for me.

    They actually gave me a bunch of copies of an issue of the magazine to sell at my school! I was the nerdiest nerd in the 4th grade that day, I’m sure. I never returned the extra issues, and felt guilty about it for years until I got old enough to realize that they didn’t care.