As an aside, if you’re looking for a more detailed and ordered history of Starlog’s run, I recommend this site, which goes issue-by-issue and provides a very interesting timeline of how it developed as a publication over time.
SF is a literary genre—the written word is where it began, where it’s purpose and method were developed, and even if visual media has jockeyed itself into being the mainstream face of SF, well, those movies and TV shows still have to steal all their ideas from somewhere. Although it’s much easier to avoid SF in its basal book form now, whole swathes of fandom have ended up going back to the literature for a host of reasons; for example, using the ubiquitous tie-in novel to tide you over until a beloved series returns (if it ever does.) There remains some kind of reverence for written fantasy, going all the way back to the early days of the genre when literature (be it a novel or a short story) was one of the only games in town, and was certainly more consistent in wild imagination (and quality) than the movies and TV shows of the earlier eras—eventually the movies would catch up in terms of what could appear on screen, and there was a transition period where the forerunners of then-modern SF were still venerated and given prime real estate at conventions, because if you liked movies like Star Wars, you still had to thank Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Dick, and way too many others for helping develop what you liked about the genre.
I’ve read enough of Starlog to have seen two decade transitions—from the seventies to the eighties and from the eighties to the nineties, and with them came a number of changes to the world of SF fandom, though it usually took a few years for people to notice. That tends to be the way we view these sort of cultural eras retroactively: the trends (or stereotypes) that define those decades take a few years to really make their mark, and the first few years resemble the previous decade more often than not.
This is the 100th post on Scrapbook Infinity, which may or may not be an achievement. Have I ever reached 100 posts on previous blogs? Almost certainly. But I feel like this pseudo-project has been especially fun for me for the past year-with-change, so doing something a little different for this occasion feels appropriate. Here, then, is something very different from what I have been tackling on this site since the beginning, and something I’ve pretty much avoided doing for the past several years: personal writing.
SF is a genre tethered to its past, despite all its claims of looking ahead—prone to throwbacks, homages, or re-imaginings, reverent to its classical sacred cows, and even claiming the lineage of some of the oldest modes of storytelling. Nostalgia is a major factor in it, childhood being the place where one is supposed to discover and indulge in fantasy, before the responsibilities of adult life attempt to seize those pleasures away—the SF fan decides to keep a child-like sense of wonder in their lives regardless, chasing that same sense of possibility and innocence; that’s what fandom in general often feels like. What’s interesting is how the nostalgia can often encompass times before your own: the minds behind something like Star Wars didn’t grow up watching the Republic serials when they were new, but when they were re-aired on television in the fifties—and television may surpass even the local library for introducing fans to the products of an earlier era, hooking them onto the SF bandwagon without even needing anything in contemporary culture to do it. Rather than working their way backwards, there were whole generations of audiences who found themselves more or less at the beginning of the genre just by pure happenstance.