The rebirth of Omni—and its vibe


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I adored Omni as a young man but I was probably a bit more liberal in the whole supernatural/science overlap back then. Omni would go from Sasquatch to Spaceships in a handful of pages. Meh, I guess that’s cool.

I dunno, I think there’s quite a bit of room for conversation between the more hard-sciencey scifi and more supernatural/fantasy-oriented stuff. I wouldn’t be interested in a purely hard-sci-fi magazine, but something in which genres overlap is more compelling (and might very well lead to me reading more hard-science scifi.)

One of the great things about Omni and its ilk is that it does cross over so many boundaries - the fragmentation of speculative fiction into so many camps is a recent thing.

OMNI seemed to go through two distinct phases, 1980s when it was a good hard science/speculative mix, and then 1990s when it definitely seemed to be infected with woo-woo.


Yay!!! (Watch me run around the room, hands waving, muppet-like.)


Omni rebooted;
Watch me run around; waving
my hands muppet-like.


Do any of you actually read this site?

uh-oh. Was the article sarcastic? Has my coffee not kicked in yet? it seemed like a good thing…

I loved OMNI early on, and even as a teen appreciated the fact that its slick big-magazine format “validated” science fiction and science fact in ways that the digests didn’t.

But man . . . I have to echo some the observations above. Somewhere along the line I found myself flipping through the pages and thinking “what happened?” The percentage of psuedo-science and trifles hit some crucial point and I just gave up.

In fact: If you search the letters column, you’ll find one by me, ranking on the magazine and cancelling my subscription! (To my great embarrassment, the refund check went to my sister, who had bought me a gift subscription . . . that was hard to explain!)

That said, I wish the reboot well, and hope it emulates the spirit of OMNI’s early years, not the lazy sensationalism of its decline.

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I’d greatly prefer a magazine with occasional speculative woo over one that, say, was 100 percent approved by Richard Dawkins or PZ Myers. Give me a dash of the metaphysical over their brand of unbearable know-it-all prickishness any day.

[edit] I should add that I wasn’t ever a regular reader of Omni, so I don’t know how bad it got. But if we’re talking people like Rupert Sheldrake or Terence McKenna, I guess I’m in the big-tent camp.

It is a good thing! I’m just surprised that people who read Boing Boing would be surprised at our being enthusiastic about something that blends “sasquatch and spaceships”, as it were.


I hadn’t thought about Omni in years - then last weekend it came up in a conversation with my sister-in-law. We spent several minutes reminiscing about what an awesome, quirky magazine it had been, especially for two science-inclined, slightly nerdy girls. Now I have to go discover some of those fan sites the article mentioned…

We all knew it would be reborn, but how long until the name-change takes place?


UPDATE: which covers are original, and which are fake fakes?

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I think this was more in relation to the non-fiction stuff. Omni was not just a fiction magazine - there were also science and (as noted above) pseudo-science articles. Though, I suppose that back before everyone had a camera on them at all times Bigfoot, lake monsters and UFOs seemed a little more possible than they do today.

I don’t think think the original post was sarcastic. I think the sarcasm is directed at anyone complaining about a magazine including articles about UFOs and Bigfoot on a site that currently has an article about a 35 ft tall straw Dalek on the front page and that made Loren Coleman a household name (at least in my house (note, I live alone)).


Reading through the full article the question that immediately comes to my mind is “Is there enough material in the Bob Guccione treasure trove this man has amassed to finally put out the extended, 8 disc, bonus-filled Criterion Collection Blu-Ray of “Caligula” that I have been waiting all my life for?”. I mostly want the extras to be you-tube style reaction videos of the high-class, British non-porn actors watching the final, porn-added cut. I imagine John Gielgud clucking his tongue in refined disapproval and Helen Mirren being amused by it. Peter O’Tool would, of course, be hitting on Helen Mirren.

The second question is “Will I regret asking that first question?”

Malcolm McDowell, at Dragon Con a few years ago, describing Sir John Gielgud’s reaction when finding himself on the CALIGULA set filled with half-naked slaveboys:

“Isn’t this…MARVELOUS!?”


I want to point out that I think Clair Evans will make an excellent editor for the Omni reboot. Reading that she would be a part of it convinced me to get excited about it. She’s been writing an blog called “Space Canon” (among other endeavors) for some years now. It’s a fascinating record of her exploration of 50s-70s SF classics, the kind you can find 50 cent paperbacks of, and an excellent read. Looking forward to this.

“Guccione” and “artistic legacy” don’t seem to go together.

As a preteen I liked Omni for the scifi and the cool stuff (and the art!) - but even at that age I could tell that there was an extremely high level of credulousness and god of the gaps arguments (though I didn’t know that had its own name till later). When even a 10 year old knows you’re fruitloopy that’s into quantum water and Jenny McCarthy territory.

And yes, I’d say it was far more credulous than BoingBoing. You can get your freak on here, but things are always in context.

That said, I’m looking forward to seeing what they’ll do.

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