After helping my parents move just before COVID shut everything down, I returned home with a box of stuff that my mom had been holding onto ever since I was in grade school, more than 35 years ago. That box subsequently gathered dust in my basement until I finally dug it out earlier this year and began going through its contents.
Most of it was trivial: spelling bee awards; old papers and school projects (including my first forays into graphic design via Aldus PageMaker); and sketchpads filled with drawings of airplanes, spaceships, and fantasy maps. But there were also some definite nostalgic gems in there, chief of which was a nearly intact promotional magazine for 1986’s Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
I’m not sure if they’re still a thing in this era of movie websites, blogs, social media campaigns, and Blu-ray/DVD extras, but back in the day, news stands and magazine racks were often filled with glossy promotional magazines for the latest genre movies. In addition to featuring (spoiler-filled) synopses, these magazines were one of the few pre-internet sources for behind-the-scenes info, including photos, cast and crew interviews, and various “Making of” details. Whenever we went to the grocery store, I’d camp out in the magazine aisle and often thumb through these promotional magazines alongside issues of Fangoria and Starlog, which allowed me to glimpse movies that I’d probably never see otherwise.
With its largely Earth-bound plot and time travel shenanigans — not to mention lighter tone — The Voyage Home may be one of the most atypical Star Trek movies, but that’s probably why I like it so much. After an alien probe arrives in the Solar System and begins wreaking havoc on Earth, the crew of the Enterprise — now fugitives on Vulcan because of their actions in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock — discover that the probe is trying to communicate with humpback whales, which are extinct in the 23rd century. And so James T. Kirk et al. endeavor to travel back in time to the late 20th century, find some humpbacks, and bring them back to the future in the hopes of stopping the probe and saving Earth. What ensues is an absolute caper of a film with an environmental message that feels almost quaint in its earnestness.
Thumbing through the pages of this promotional magazine certainly brings on a wave of nostalgia, not just for the original Star Trek crew, but also for that era where information about movies was often sparse and limited to a magazine or two. It’s a modern paradox. On the one hand, we have access to so much information, making it easier than ever to learn even the most trivial bits of info about the most obscure films. On the other hand, we now take all of that information for granted, and I do think that movies — and art in general — have lost a little bit of their special-ness compared to when access wasn’t so great.
The solution, of course, is not to give up that access but rather, to cultivate a deeper appreciation and even sense of gratitude for what we have now. And in that spirit, I hope you enjoy thumbing through these pages from the official Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home movie magazine — virtually, anyway.
The official Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home movie magazine was published in 1986 by O’Quinn Studios, which also published Fangoria, Gorezone, Starlog, and Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine as well as official magazines for Aliens, Rambo III, Superman IV, the Quest for Peace, and Willow.