Future Life magazine

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One thing I never expected about the future was that so many of my youthful enthusiasms would keep rising from the past, but here’s another, stumbling into the room reeking of cemetery earth and old newsprint. Future Life was a spinoff from Starlog magazine, and where the parent title concerned itself with science fiction and fantasy in film and television, the focus of Future Life was technology, popular science, scientific speculation, and written science fiction (all from an American perspective, of course); film and TV productions were there to attract general readers but never dominated the proceedings. Future Life ran for 31 issues from 1978 to 1981, and in many ways the magazine was a kind of OMNI-lite: not as lavish as its rival but not as expensive either. For a while this was a magazine I always looked out for (together with Heavy Metal, with whom it shared a music writer, Lou Stathis) but I missed the first nine issues, and many of the later ones before it vanished altogether, so it’s gratifying to find the complete run available as a job lot at the Internet Archive.

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It’s become commonplace today to regard Generation X as the first generation with no optimistic future to look forward to, but Future Life shows how much optimism there was at the beginning of the 1980s. The mood darkened just as the magazine expired, with genuine fears of a nuclear war persisting through much of the decade, and the Challenger disaster reminding everyone that leaving the planet was still a hazardous business. Future Life wasn’t blind to the problems posed by technology—there were features about the dangers posed by nuclear power and climate change—but it remained upbeat about the potentials, especially where space colonies were concerned. Most issues carried an art feature although these were generally about realistic space artists or spaceship painters, with none of the eye-popping weirdness favoured by OMNI. But this magazine was my first introduction to the work of Syd Mead, a few years before Blade Runner made him deservedly famous. On the writing side, many of the articles were by popular science fiction writers—Roger Zelazny on computer crime, Norman Spinrad on a pet theme, the future of drug-taking—which you can now read with the full benefit of hindsight. In later issues there was Harlan Ellison filing a succession of lengthy and inimitable film essays; several pieces by Robert Anton Wilson; and some good music articles with features on Larry Fast (issue 12) and Robert Fripp (issue 14), while Lou Stathis profiled and interviewed Bernie Krause (issue 18), The Residents (issue 19), Patrick Gleeson (issue 22), Jon Hassell (issue 24), Captain Beefheart (issue 25), and everyone’s favourite robots, Kraftwerk (issue 31).

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The Internet Archive currently has all the files stuck on a single page so most people will either have to download everything at once (I’d advise using the torrent file) or sample issues at random. Fortunately there’s a very thorough breakdown of the entire run of magazines here for those who prefer to pick through the detail. In the universe next door we’re reading these back issues while floating above the earth in our L5 space colonies.

Previously on { feuilleton }
Science Fiction Monthly

Weekend links 170

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Owl portrait by Iain Macarthur.

• “Ghost Box is a glance through a window seeing something running alongside our version of reality. Like, what if Paul McCartney had made records with the Radiophonic Workshop?” Ghost Box designer and Mr Focus Group, Julian House is interviewed.

• “…that book with the girl with the hatchet in her head…” Dave Tompkins remembers Denis Gifford’s A Pictorial History of Horror Movies (1973), a formative influence of mine, and that of many other people, it seems.

Salvador Dalí’s 1946 illustrated edition of Macbeth. Related: From Macbeth to the Wizard of Oz: New exhibition explores the erotic side of witchcraft.

I do not want to live in a world where the government and a select few conservative feminists get to decide what we may and may not masturbate to, and use the bodies of murdered women or children as emotional pawns in that debate. It is supremely difficult to achieve radical ends by conservative means. Feminists and everyone who seeks to end sexual violence should be very cautious when their immediate goals seem to line up neatly with those of social conservatives and state censors.

Laurie Penny on the recent Tory policy of attempting to limit online pornography.

The Facebook page for The Wicker Man has details of the pursuit for a complete print of the film. A Blu-ray edition will be released in October.

Anne Billson visited the Hotel Thermae Palace in Ostend, the columnated location of Daughters of Darkness.

Kenneth Anger on how he made Lucifer Rising. The ICA in London is screening his films this weekend.

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Roy Krenkel illustrates Tales of Three Planets by Edgar Rice Burroughs, 1964.

The Electric Banana Blows Your Mind: The soundtrack library alter ego of The Pretty Things.

• Mix of the week: an ambient (in the 90s’ sense of the word) DJ set by Surgeon.

Bernie Krause shares the happiest sounds he’s heard in nature.

• RIP Walter De Maria, sculptor and musician.

Sexodrome by Asia Argento with Morgan.

• Metabolist: Identify (1980) | Curly Wall (1980) | Ymuzgo/Pigface (1981)

Wilfried Sätty album covers

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Gandharva (1971) by Beaver & Krause. Cover art by Sätty, lettering by David Singer.

There aren’t many, unfortunately, and half the ones here have already featured in previous posts, but since I’m often referring people to Sätty’s work it seems worthwhile gathering them together. His album cover art shows he was equally adept at working with colour as with black-and-white, and might have done a lot more in this line had he been given the opportunity. (Sätty’s first book, The Cosmic Bicycle, does include some colour plates.)

The Gandharva album is the oddest in this small collection, one side being a blend of blues, gospel and Beaver & Krause’s Moog doodlings while the other side comprises an improvised Moog-inflected jazz suite recorded live in Grace Cathedral, San Francisco. The setting of the latter is apt since cover artists Sätty and David Singer both came to prominence among San Francisco’s psychedelic poster designers in the late 1960s. Film director Robert Fuest liked Gandharva so much he hired Paul Beaver, Bernie Krause and Gerry Mulligan to play similar music for the soundtrack of The Final Programme.

Of the other albums the Sopwith Camel is obviously closest to Sätty’s familiar style. The covers for George Duke suit the mid-70s trend of jazz/funk albums with “cosmic” sleeve art exemplified by Tadanori Yokoo’s fantastic (in all senses) collage for Agharta by Miles Davis. Documentation of Sätty’s non-book work is still sparse so if anyone knows of any other covers please leave a comment.

Update: Added The Occult Explosion. See this later post.

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The Miraculous Hump Returns From The Moon (1973) by Sopwith Camel.

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The Occult Explosion (1973) by Various Artists.

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Feel (1974) By George Duke.

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The Aura Will Prevail (1975) by George Duke.

Elsewhere on { feuilleton }
The album covers archive

Previously on { feuilleton }
Nature Boy: Jesper Ryom and Wilfried Sätty
Wilfried Sätty: Artist of the occult
Illustrating Poe #4: Wilfried Sätty