Omni Gets Rebooted
While Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica and numerous superheroes have seen reboots on TV, in the movies and even in comic books, one of the biggest names in science fiction is rising like the Phoenix of Greek mythology — or even Jean Grey of X-Men fame if that is easier for you to understand.
This is, of course, Omni. No, not the crappy car Dodge produced from 1978 to 1990. We’re talking about Omni magazine, which ran from 1978 to 1998.
The magazine was actually launched by Penthouse mogul Bob Guccione and partner Kathy Keeton, and proved that Guccione was far from the lowbrow smut peddlers that he was often compared to. Guccione may have pushed lines with Penthouse and arguably he pushed it beyond the line of good taste while trying to keep up with pornography online, and in doing so it cost him much of his media empire, including Omni.
While Penthouse rival Playboy helped launch many an author over the years, Penthouse never managed to have the same cultural impact. However, Omni certainly did, and the science fiction magazine (which no, didn’t feature a geek of the month centerfold) actually published stories by the likes of Orson Scott Card, William Gibson and Robert Heinlein.
For the record, William Gibson’s first short story, Johnny Mnemonic appeared in the magazine in 1981, a few years before he published his ground breaking cyberpunk novel Neuromancer.
With the likes of Gibson and Bruce Sterling writing for Omni, it was where the cyberpunk genre wasn’t exactly born, but where it found its grove.
This was because Omni was also part actual science magazine as well, and included pieces by Carl Sagan and Freeman Dyson.
Last week, The Verge announced that Omni is coming back, courtesy of Jeremy Frommer, a reported collector and businessman who acquired Guccione’s archives earlier this year.
This includes the rights to past issues, including illustrations, photos and other content. The word is that Frommer plans to release these as prints, books and even collector’s items.
While we may live in a world that doesn’t value “dead trees” those who do see the wonder in paper will find this news quite compelling. Omni lives and as hardcover books that chronicle the fiction, the photos and more, this is big news.
But what makes this even bigger is that Frommer has hired Claire Evans as the editor of a new online project, which has been described as an “Omni Reboot.”
However, just as the iconic Newsweek now only lives in bits and bytes, zeroes and ones instead of actual paper, so will Omni. The new take on the old magazine will take the path it took in its final years; namely web form. It will be live on the web with weekly updates.
It will reportedly include new fiction and nonfiction, and more importantly include the accompanying illustrations that made the print version something special.
What could also make this really interesting is that the concept of the future has changed. We’ve seen that Gibson was wrong about a few things; he envisioned a world without the United States, but where the Soviet Union lived on and, more importantly, his characters routinely used pay phones! In other words, the future the old timers in Omni predicted hasn’t come true.
But in many ways we’re living in their future.
“We’re 15 years closer to the future than Omni was then,” Evans told The Verge. “We have that on them … There are things that the writers of Omni dreamt and speculated about in 1985 that we are totally living now.”
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