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Most recent update 7-2012

Devon and Rachel from the pilot, "Voyage of Discovery".


In the year 2790 A.D., a giant Earthship, Ark, drifts through deep space, out of control, its crew having been killed five hundred years earlier.   When the accident that killed the crew occurred, the airlocks connecting the ship's domes that housed the last survivors of the dead planet, Earth, were sealed.   Cut off from the outside world, many communities simply forgot that they were on a spacecraft.   They accepted that their world was fifty miles in diameter and the sky was metal.   Content with their lot, no one knew that their world was in grave danger.   Without a crew at the helm, the Ark was on a collision course with a sun.

Major Characters:

     Devon - Orphaned when his parents' farm burned, he is somewhat of a dreamer.   He has also had to teach himself by asking questions.   Unfortunately, he asks the wrong questions which causes his banishment from Cypress Corners.   He is naive about some things, but learns quickly when he discovers the truth.

Rachel - She is in love with Devon and, because of this love, followed him into the depths of the Ark.   Raised to be nothing more than the servant of the man she is promised to at birth, she soon learns to enjoy the control over her own destiny her departure from Cypress Corners gives her.

 Garth - (Robin Ward -- One time host of the Canadian game show, "Guess What?")   Rachel was promised to Garth for marriage.   Garth, a blacksmith by trade, does not love Rachel and wishes the Elders would give Devon permission to marry Rachel.   When Devon and Rachel escape, Garth is forced by a code of honour to bring Rachel back and kill Devon.

About the Show:

The Starlost premiered on television loosely based on a concept created by Harlan Ellison.   Meticulously and lovingly devised by the brilliance of Harlan Ellison and thought out to perfection by Scientific Advisor Ben Bova, the series promised to be a monumental step for SF television.   Ellison had contracted great SF writers such as A.E. Van Vogt, Frank Herbert, Joanna Russ, Thomas M. Disch, Alexei Panshin, Phillip K. Dick, and Ursula K. Le Guin to write storylines that would be scripted by the best Canadian writers available.   Douglas Trumbull would be Executive Producer and create the special effects via the Magicam system.

It looked good.   It sounded good.   It fell apart.   The Starlost regressed into a low-budget, syndicated show with all the SFX being accomplished ineffectively through chroma-key, the method used in TV newscasts to put pictures behind the commentators.   Trumbull left before production began as did Ellison, who used his pen name as series creator and writer of episode one.   Only Ursula K. Le Guin's storyline made it into production.   The end product was a dismal reflection of the glories promised.   After only 16 episodes, The Starlost vanished into the void.

Yes there were only 16 episodes produced! You can stop hunting for more now!

The entire series is now out on a very nice DVD set!

The following information is compiled from various press releases about the show:


(This page was tacked on before production had started as they only made 17 episodes!)

THE STARLOST:  the incredible adventure of a giant spacecraft carrying the survivors of a dead planet Earth on the most critical mission ever launched by man:  an endless journey across the Universe in search of a new world.   Earthship ARK:  hundreds of miles long... a huge grapelike cluster of metal domes, each a tiny world isolated from all the others.   In the countless generations that have lived and died since the launching of the ARK, everyone has forgotten that the Earth ever existed... forgotten that they are streaking through space on a collision course with disaster.   Forgotten... until one man stumbles on the truth:  that they are THE STARLOST!

Executive producer Douglas Trumbull's revolutionary "Magicam" camera technique gives THE STARLOST the most exciting and realistic special effects ever achieved on television.

Jerome M. Zeitman serves as co-executive producer.

Creator/Story editor Harlan Ellison has won innumerable science fiction awards, including one for a "Star Trek" script and one for editing the "new wave" anthology, Dangerous Visions.   His stories and articles have been translated into sixteen languages, have been anthologized over 200 times, and are included in a dozen "best anthologies" lists.


GAY ROWAN - Rachel


Douglas Trumbull & Jerome M. Zeitman


William Davidson


Ed Richardson


Harlan Ellison


Norman Klenman


Ben Bova


Jack McAdam


Gerard Rochon


Arthur Weinthall

Produced by Glen-Warren Productions, Limited
in association with
the CTV Television Network

Distributed by Twentieth Centure-Fox Television


Devon: is Keir Dullea

Tall, quick, intelligent and -- this is the keynote word -- resourceful. He is not cut from the impossible and unbelievable mold of mightily-thewed warriors, but speaks by his entire nature to the hero in each of us, average and ordinary humans thrown into the burning center of events that demand heroism and ingenuity.

He can be surprised and awed, but he will not consider supernatural that which he doesn't at first understand. He is a pragmatist, but a dreamer.

He learns quickly, remembers lessons learned, and only resorts to violence when all other, more intelligent avenues are closed to him. He feels deeply, he can be hurt, he can cry, he can laugh. He is simply putŠa man like all men. He has no superhuman powers, and he will not be required to act in a manner that has come to be known in television as "the protagonist ever-triumphant." He can fail, he can be saved, he can err, and lose no points for it. He can even look the fool occasionally. Don't we all. Occasionally?

He is a product of an agarian society, remember, and he is frequently innocent, even naive. But he learns fast.

Rachel: is Gay Rowan

A girl you will remember. Because Rachel will change from the outset of the series through its various segments, in the way modern women are changing. Reared to be a chattel, an unthinking toy for the man she marries, a pretty thing who tends house, Rachel will become a self-reliant, witty, resourceful woman of quick intelligence and enormous personal stores of strength. She will change more than either of the men, and in some ways her character will be the most fascinating. Because we live in a time when the role of women is changing, and Rachel will be a paradigm for today's woman, shucking off the fetters of ancient preconceptions as to what a woman is, building for herself a personality and an ambience that will make her memorable. She will not be the tittering courtesan, nor the helpless Fay Wray-like victim, whimpering helplessly.

She will be a strong and determined woman who has a mission that she has come to believe in. A woman who has perceived the futility and pointlessness of her former life, and subscribed to a new way of life that demands fleetness of foot and thought if she is to survive.

British "Savoy" pringint 1978

The Novelization

The original script for the pilot episode won a Writers Guild award as the most outstanding teleplay of the year!  As I understand it the scripts (as with many writing contests) were sent in minus an authors credit pages and judged that way.   In the introduction Harlan Ellison talks about how he watched six months of his life turn into a nightmare.   I might point out that even after this experience three years later he was writing an episode of Logan's Run! Quite a trooper! 

 His introduction "Somehow, I don't think we're in Kansas, Toto" Mr. Ellison tells an interesting tale of deception and betrayal and generally the way television works.   I highly recommend the novel however which is a very enjoyable read.   You can still find prints at used bookstores and in 1991 a British company issued a reprint with a blue foil-like cover. This was a large softbound version, and very striking. The story tells, basically the pilot episode of the Starlost show. Except for the fact that it is enthralling, and leaves you wanting more. When i read it back in high school I had vague memories of the show. Unfortunatley it took quite a few more years before I was able to get any of the episodes on videotape.The writing is dramatic and has a style that the television series completely lacked. When the novel is over you want to read the next one in the series, only to discover that there is not another book in the series.

The Original Script

The script was published (evidently without legal permission by Harlan) along with the novelization in " Phoenix without Ashes: The Original Teleplay and Novel for the TV Series the Starlost" Harlan Ellison, Hardcover, 272pp. ISBN: 0942681118, Published by Ursus Imprints But evidently there was a legal action and very few copies ever made it out the door.

A copy of Harlan Ellison's original script for "Phoenix Without Ashes", the pilot episode of The Starlost, can also be found in the paperback anthology "Faster Than Light", edited by Jack Dan and George Zebrowski. ACE SF 22825-9 ISBN 0-441-22825-9. It was published in 1982, so good luck hunting for it! A few illustrations add interest to the story. Thank you to D.Rosenbaum for the info on the paperback!

When I was in high school I let  one of my friends read this novel.  He loved the book. When he got done he asked me if he could borrow the next set in the series.  He was rather  upset that there were no further books in the series!  I still think it would make for an  wonderful series of novels!

Before that it was published in a hardbound version of the same anthology back in 1976. This description comes via Index to Science Fiction Anthologies and Collections, Combined Edition by William G. Contento and more directly at A CD-ROM version of the fantastic database ( a must for anthology hounds ) is now only $28 to

William G. Contento 802 Katrina St. Livermore, CA 94550

Faster Than Light ed. Jack M. Dann & George Zebrowski (Harper & Row, 1976, hc)

€ Introduction: Dreaming Again € Jack M. Dann & George Zebrowski € in

€ There Was a Young Lady Named Bright € A. H. Reginald Buller € pm Punch Dec 19 '12;

€ Epigraph [from The Science in Science Fiction] € James Blish € ex Vector Sum '75

€ The Ultimate Speed Limit € Isaac Asimov € ar Saturday Review of Literature Jul 8 '72

€ Possible, That's All! € Arthur C. Clarke € ar F&SF Oct '68

€ The Limiting Velocity of Orthodoxy € Keith Laumer € ar Galaxy Dec '70

€ But What If We Tried It? € Ben Bova € ar *

€ Sun Up € A. A. Jackson, IV & Howard Waldrop € ss *

€ Dialogue € Poul Anderson € nv *

€ Longline € Hal Clement € nv *

€ Phoenix Without Ashes € Harlan Ellison € pl *

€ Phoenix Without Ashes € Tim Kirk € il *

€ The Event Horizon € Ian Watson € nv *

€ Nor the Many-Colored Fires of a Star Ring € George R. R. Martin € nv *

€ Dead in Irons € Chelsea Quinn Yarbro € nv *

€ Seascape € Gregory Benford € nv *

€ Seascape € Gregory Benford € nv *

€ Fast-Friend € George R. R. Martin € nv *

€ Hyperspace € Dick Allen € pm Edge Fll '73

€ Afterword: Our Many Roads to the Stars € Poul Anderson € ar Galaxy Sep '75

€ The Contributors € [Misc. Material] € bg

€ A Selected Bibliography: Interstelliar Travel € [Misc. Material] € bi

The original script is a masterwork of science fiction. It is well worth tracking down. if anyone has a copy of the Faster than Light in paperback I would love to have a scan of the cover to put on this page.

The "Sort Of" Parody

  The Starlost experience also inspired the science editor on the show, Ben Bova, to write a sarcastic book called The Starcrossed.   From the back cover... "It's the twenty-first century.   The aluminum sky-scraper that houses Titanic Productions is built to earthquake specifications.   Should the earth tremble beyond desired tolerances, the whole tower will take off like a rocket, hurtling itself and its occupants to a splashdown in the Pacific!"

What else is new?

     "Aside from the Vitaform Process which grants nubile new bodies to the middle-aged, there is 3D TV, offering the illusion of almost-live entertainment in the home.   All it needs is a smashing new series to bring it to the heart of the American people and get Titanic Productions off the brink of financial disaster."

     "That's where The Starcrossed comes in, with its own surprises..."

I highly recommend this book as well.   Not only is the story good but the cover has a nice painting of Harlan Ellison holding a ray gun!  How can you beat that for cool?

The Exiles

Series collaborator Ben Bova also wrote a trilogy (early 70's, probably post series) called The Exiles.  The three books were titled, "Exiled from Earth", "Flight of the Exiles", and "End of Exile."  Though the plot elements of the three books seem to be highly derivative of "The Starlost", it is the final volume that is uncannily close.  A giant spacecraft - in this case a series of concentric rings revolving around a central hub to procure artificial gravity rather than domes on a scaffold - has suffered a calamity on its bridge; the crew has been dead for centuries.  Now the ship is adrift and on a collision course with a star.  The protagonist - whose name I remember as "Linc" - is a character very much like Devon; like his shipmates, he doesn't believe there is any reality beyond the confines of the ship.  Something - I forget what - causes him to question this and he is banished from the habitable, outermost ring of the ship.  He journeys up a long spiral staircase to the hub and there encounters an ancient survivor who has to live in zero gravity because he is obese.  Linc eventually learns how to correct the guidance system of the ship, journeys back to the outer ring, convinces a character somewhat reminiscent of "Starlost's" Rachel, and manages to teleport the survivors to a habitable planet before the ship smashes into the sun.

Looking for more cult television pages? Check out

Starlost Movies Now On Video!!  

The five movie versions are now avaliable through ! They cost about $12 each.

Also out on DVD now is the full series!

If the above link goes bad, try searching Amazon or e-bay for it.

Also the theme for the TV series is now out on iTunes.

Also pick up the  cool new Graphic Novel made form the award winning screenplay  "Phoenix Without Ashes"  Sure to be a rare item and it is really  well done!  I would post a link, but it has already gone out of print, though resellers on Amazon and e-bay still  have it! 

New Starlost Movie Deal?  

Title:         Phoenix Without Ashes

Log Line:  Set aboard a 2,000 mile-long space ship that houses 400 biospheres that has been travelling for thousands of years and generations and generations have come and gone.  Through theses years, the ship has veered off target and nobody even knows that they are aboard a ship at all--except for one figure who knows and must convince them that they are, indeed, on a space ship and are about to crash into a star.

 Well I guess that fell through as well... A year or two later there was another project called "Generation Ship" that was pitched, but nothing seems to ahve come of that either. 

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