This issue of PEOPLE is different. It is a special double issue and thus has 72 editorial pages, half again as many as the regular issues which we have been putting out each week since late February, and which more than a million of you have been buying.

Our editorial mission is different with this issue too, because the end of the year is time to reflect on the past and foresee the future. Looking back, we have chosen what we think are the 25 most intriguing people of 1974, and peering ahead, we have indicated some of the personalities you'll be hearing about in 1975.

It wasn't easy to decide upon either group. For the 25 people of the year, we asked our staff in New York and our correspondents around the world for nominations. As a working description of the qualities we were looking for, we relied upon the Oxford Universal Dictionary's definition of "intriguing": "To excite the interest or curiosity of; to interest so as to puzzle or fascinate."

We winnowed the nominations from more than a hundred to 50 or so, and finally reached 26. One candidate had to go—and it would be unfair to reveal his (or her) name. Now we expect mail from readers asking how in tarnation we could have (1) included this individual or (2) left that one out.

Among the 25 are some familiar names and, we suspect, some surprises. During the year they thrilled or shocked us, made us laugh or sometimes weep, provoked us to envy, wonder, pride, anger or respect. In short, they demonstrated in attention-getting abundance all the human qualities we promised would be our editorial jurisdiction when we began.

The same philosophy guided our forecast for 1975. We have spotlighted some names and faces that we believe will be making news in the arts, show business, literature and sports. Even more of them will probably be unfamiliar, but not for long. New stars burst forth these days with astonishing swiftness. Remember where you read about them first.

Because 1975 will be a year of increasing political activity, especially among Democrats whose ambitions extend to the White House, we asked a distinguished graphologist to tell us what the handwriting of seven of them reveals. Did you know that Ed Muskie's "i" dots are placed very high, a sign that he is imaginative? Or that George Wallace's backhanded slant shows him to be a shy man underneath that bluster? What the expert has to say about these possible candidates may not prove as much as the New Hampshire primary, but it's a lot more fun.

The year now ending was spectacular for the number of smashed careers, marriages and ambitions. At our request, a celebrated Washington, D.C. astrologer studied her charts on the chances of redemption for 10 of the year's better-known victims. Her report is encouraging—not only for many of the subjects but surely for the rest of us who are muddling through. If there is a bright future for Wilbur Mills or George Foreman, all of us can take heart.

Predictions are a perilous business, of course. Today's superstar may be tomorrow's what's-his-name. In our list of presidential hopefuls, we may have overlooked the very Man Who. And, inevitably, further misfortunes could visit our Losers, even though Saturn may be in the 12th house.

One thing can be counted on: over the next year PEOPLE will continue to report on the fascinating men and women of the world, as we have done forthe past 10 months. Our estimate is that we'll cover more than 2,000 people in 1975. Getting to know them means nothing more strenuous than a visit to your newsstand every week.