First Word

First Word

HI EVERYONE. WELCOME TO THE NEW OMNI.

 

Before OMNI existed here, it was a flesh-and-blood publication that thrived for 18 years, filling the mailboxes and newsstands of its devotees with thrilling dispatches from the edge of tomorrow. It’s difficult to overestimate OMNI‘s impact on a generation of minds. In taking the first hesitant steps in these big editorial shoes, I’ve crossed paths with countless people–scientists, artists, hackers, dreamers, engineers, critics–who trace the genealogical lines of their inspired, polymathic thinking to a single origin point: OMNI. It’s daunting.

 

OMNI‘s own lineage is complex. It was the brainchild of Bob Guccione, known to most as the kingpin of the Penthouse empire. Bob cared deeply about both art and science, believing that the mysteries of the universe could be made comprehensible if the right combination of analytic and experimental inquiry was continuously applied. This may have been an ambitious notion, especially for a man known primarily as a pornographer, but it was sincere, and its scope allowed for nearly two decades of radical, invigorating, gonzo exploration. Bob, all gold chains and leather pants, with his eyes to the sky, is our unlikely patron saint now.

 

The new OMNI will not be the magazine you remember. We will never be able to compete with your nostalgia. We can’t. If you’re here, catalyzed to explore our OMNI Reboot by your fond memories of OMNI as it once was, you know what I mean: it’s too sacred to imitate. No one–not even a fan–should crawl into its crazy, lucid, beautiful skin and attempt to speak through it like a puppet. That would be living in the past–and OMNI was a magazine about the future.

 

Sure, we’ll crib from the original every once in a while. We have a fifteen-year archive of images and ideas to draw from; we’ll go there and we’ll return inspired. We’ll bring back jewels from its depths. We’ll breathe the old stuff back to life, as it deserves. But OMNI Reboot must be new, in order to be truly OMNI. As Bob Guccione wrote in 1978, in the opening pages of the very first OMNI Magazine, “the frontiers of human knowledge and experience are forever changing, forever expanding, and we, who are living at the very dawn of time, must make our common peace with change if we are to survive the next 1,000 years.”

 

We can make our peace with change, and map it, too: at the intersection of science fiction and reality, and the point where the two stray apart. After all, there have only been a few periods, fleeting, incandescent, where technology, science, and science fiction have found themselves expressing the same desires. In the Space Age, writers conjured the stars just as scientists worked diligently to send us there. In those days we dreamt collectively–our heads in the sky, our feet on the moon. But more often than not, science and science fiction diverge. Now, far more than in OMNI‘s heyday, our visions of the future are fractured in the simultaneous, ever-changing electronic marketplace of ideas we call the digital world.

 

The future has become a product. It supports a cottage industry of folks who earn their bread prognosticating, prophesying, designing, and marketing it. We are sold the impression that it will happen, like an event, from one day to the next–and told we will need the right gadgets to properly recognize it. But the future doesn’t work that way. It’s not a clubhouse; it’s not a trend; it’s not a place. The future will mostly likely happen as it always has: emerging from a million transparent forces, from patterns already, always, in place everywhere around us.

 

So think of this new OMNI as a future radar. The writers, artists, and speculators on these pages aren’t trying to tell you how it will go down. They’re looking, in all earnestness, in every discipline and beneath every stone, for those patterns. Sometimes this search will lead them to strange places, to examine phenomena not ordinarily seen in science magazines. It will lead them to the arts, to music, to the unexplained, to all the weird corners of human thought. Here at OMNI Reboot, we’re looking for the places where the future begins–and the places it went when we weren’t looking. We’ll be mining the lucid space between science fiction and reality, and our aim is true. Bear with us while we find our way. It’s a wild world out here.

 

This week, we’re talking about archives, collapse, and extinction. It’s our way of acknowledging that things must end before they can begin anew.

667 Comments

  1. Karen Morgan 9 months ago

    I cannot tell you how delighted I am. I wish you all the best and offer any help I may be able to give as a fellow journalist, digital editor and lover of the once great and powerful Omni. Thrilled!

  2. Otto 9 months ago

    As a kid, OMNI was always my favorite magazine. I used to grab my copy and lay on my bed for hours, staring at pictures of dreamy worlds or reading science fiction stories, it was my dream come true. I was devastated when the print version was cancelled, and it does disappoint me that the new OMNI is not coming back in print form. There’s no justice when I can walk down the aisle and see magazines devoted to smoking weed, but not an issue of OMNI.
    Good luck with the new site. I look forward to coming back frequently. Thanks so much.

  3. War Hev 9 months ago

    First, I’d like to say that I am excited to see where the new Omni takes us! I am certain you will have much more to offer than just nostalgia. As you point out, the “new” future will not be the same as the old. I have to accept that 99% of the future I was promised as a child will never come to be. Although you mention many reasons for that, the biggest ones seem to be politically-based, as well as our woeful underfunding/under emphasis on science and space. Having said that, Omni is a welcome return, so good luck, and thank you!

  4. Paul 9 months ago

    I remember running to the corner store each month looking for the new cover. I’d pick up that hefty issue with glossy, high-quality paper and metallic ink applied so thickly you could feel its weight and thumb through to see the new artwork. After plopping down my meager savings, I’d run home to consume the magazine from front to back. OMNI was a major part of why I went into a career in science and technology. Here’s to you and your effort to bring a similar experience (though the original can never be duplicated) to aspiring scientists of today!

  5. Art 9 months ago

    I remember flipping through the Forum, the pictorials, the Games in the back, and find myself in a weird parallel universe. This is my first porn magazine of my teens, a Penthouse, and strangely, it has sections that faithfully mirror the sections of my favorite monthly science and science fiction magazine of my childhood, OMNI!

    I will forever consider Bob Guccione OMNI’s publisher first, and Penthouse as his company for for-profit magazine format research.

    Now it is the present. Long have I waited for a company that using the web design research perfected by years of for-profit porn sites, and using it to present science. Thumbnails. Specialty science categories. Free abstracts. Pay to read articles. Beautifully filmed science demonstrations with amazing graphics in well-equipped labs. OMNI-Branded science equipment. Interviews with TED talks speakers that go deeper into the science. Surrealism. Augmented Realism. I hope OMNI Reboot truly takes the Gooch’s vision into the 21st century cyberspace. (A word I first encountered in a William Gibson story published in OMNI)

  6. Rob G 9 months ago

    Welcome to the future that in some part the old Omni helped create by inspiring those that grew up to build it. This new incarnation may now do the same for a new generation – a grave responsibility. May you carry it well.

  7. Joshua A.C. Newman 9 months ago

    Dude, I’ve been a fan since I discovered Software at 12 in an Italian bookstore in 1985. I’ve enjoyed the misadventures of every Randy Tucker, Sta-Hi Mooney, Jerzy Rugby paranym you’ve taken. You’ve been a huge inspiration to me as a writer and thinker. Thanks.

  8. Scot Bishop-Walker 9 months ago

    Finding OMNI Reboot was amazing for me this morning – I was just reminiscing to my partner a couple of months ago about OMNI and how reading it impacted my outlook on what life could be “in the future” while I was in high school and college (and after). He remembered seeing the magazine on newsstands long ago, but never read it. I explained how I waited month to month to see what new things would come each month, and saved my earnings from mowing lawns and working at the city library so I could by the new magazine when it hit the rack at the 7-11 by my house.

    The visionary articles and novellas and excerpts by prominent authors (many of whom are now embody the pantheon of science fiction writers) made me look forward to what was coming, in both my own life and in the next issue.

    My favorite memory is that of reading the excerpts of Stephen King’s book Firestarter in July and August of 1980 while I was in summer school, and having the magazine taken away by the teacher so I would pay attention in class instead of reading the magazine! (I had to threaten to report her to my parents to get the magazine back after class, though…)

    I’m pleased that this is not just a resurrection of the old OMNI, but a literal reboot, looking to the future of what the medium can become, while keeping in mind the culture that surrounded OMNI and its readers.

    All I can say is thanks for making my day, and bringing back a really wonderful part of my life from so long ago, and I will be here every day, week and month to see what the future brings rom the OMNI Reboot!

  9. Kerry Benton 9 months ago

    Oh, I’m so very excited. OMNI was born the same year I was, but I remember well how excited I was for each new issue. Long ago my father was on the board of the local library, who met in the evenings, and there after hours I would sit, entranced, by Scientific American, Popular Science and of course OMNI.

    Print magazines are in dire straits, and libraries nearly as much, but entrancing imaginations never grows old… welcome, and great thanks to everyone involved!

  10. Gord Wait 9 months ago

    Sounds like a good idea. I always loved the eclectic mix of art and tech in Omni, so if that’s the direction this goes I’ll follow along..

  11. x jeremy jarratt 9 months ago

    This is very exciting, and clearly there are some very compelling personalities involved, including OR’s very first EIC here!

    I keep wondering if the name will stick, though. It almost seems like a hand refusing to let go even as invisible forces nudge the body away from the ground. IMHO, it should either be OMNI, lovely baggage and all, or be something else, fresh and new and just as dangerous – but not both. Or should it?

    • Ausfaller 8 months ago

      I agree. “Reboot” is too backward-looking, and is going to seem awkward if this venture lasts more than a couple of years.

      But I am rooting for its success!

  12. David Lomax 9 months ago

    I’m so glad to see something called Omni back online. I’ll be visiting every day.

  13. Patrick McCray 9 months ago

    Looking forward to seeing Omni Re-Boot create a new generation of scientific Americans: http://www.patrickmccray.com/2013/05/13/making-scientific-americans/

  14. Sam TwoDat Costanza 9 months ago

    Has anyone given any thought to digitizing the original run, and making them available online? OMNI was my favorite magazine, and
    I read it almost the entire run. Like so many, I was devastated to see it cancelled. Thanks for bringing the magic back!

    • john 9 months ago

      Already done, sir. That’s what got the reboot idea going.

      http://archive.org/details/omni-magazine

      • Sam TwoDat Costanza 9 months ago

        I bow to you, good sir!

      • Andrew Ayers 9 months ago

        Unfortunately, the version there has been very poorly scanned – as anyone who remembers the dead-tree version, you would need very decent scanning to even begin to bring forth the quality of the artwork involved…

  15. Massimo Luciani 9 months ago

    Best of luck! :-)

  16. CRAjr 9 months ago

    It might be interesting to select certain articles from the original Continuum section and do updates now that 20+ years has passed. Pushing aside the more outlandish woo-woo articles, there was some good stuff in there. This was where I first learned about prions (cause of “mad cow” disease). As I recall, the term prion wasn’t even used in the article, it may not have been coined yet. This was years and years before the mainstream media caught on. It would be nice to see what progress (if any) has been made by the scientists and lay people who were working on inventions, processes and theories reported in Continuum.

    Oh, and GOOD LUCK! Glad to have you back!

  17. Alex 9 months ago

    O, happy day!!!

  18. Kimmo 9 months ago

    Omni reboot: just how awesome could such a thing be, you ask?

    Robocop on a lightning powered electric unicorn awesome, I figure… +/- an order of magnitude or so

  19. Sharon Lintz 9 months ago

    Freaking fantastic!

  20. john 9 months ago

    Really looking forward to following along on this journey!

  21. Giulio Prisco 9 months ago

    Thanks for bringing OMNI back! I will follow you closely.

  22. Geek0id 9 months ago

    I look froward to seeing pictures of Frisbee shot in black and white and being labeled as a UFO with some ‘expert’ saying that it proves ‘beyond a doubt’ that aliens are here. Also black and white pictures of a blob in a forest as ‘definitive proof’ that bigfoot is real.
    Maybe I’m being overly harsh. OMNI was three things Science, Art and bullcrap. Hopefully the this new version does away with the sloppy thinking and writes interesting articles on science and has interesting fictional stories by great writers. I would love to see prominent skeptics of today write some articles, and take the harsh light of science to the current urban myths and fallacies.

  23. kerrylee69 9 months ago

    This brings me boundless joy!!!

  24. Marvin (FatherStorm) Francois 9 months ago

    Omni went a real long way in driving me towards computers in my formative years. It drove my curiosity and egged on my hunger to read science and speculative fiction. I can think of no negatives associated with a reboot of Omni and can only hope that the science fiction authors of today write for it as willingly as the authors of yesteryear.

  25. George 9 months ago

    sinclair zx80 need i say more

  26. Andrew Ayers 9 months ago

    This is such a wonderful thing to find out about! As a kid I used to devour OMNI magazine – my parents even got me a subscription to it. Sadly along the way I lost most of those issues; today I am trying (likely in vain) to find them all again (so far I have the first 3 or 4 years, plus a smattering of other issues). The Archive.org copy does not do the original magazine justice at all. I wish you all the luck in this new launch, and I will be reading and watching this reboot. Thank you!

  27. Peter Reilly 9 months ago

    Great idea! Miss the old Omni Magazine!. Can’t wait to see what you come up with. I hope you’d even be able to put up digital copies of the old pictures. On suggestion, the pictures need to be as vibrant as possible. The old Omni had those sharp photos.

  28. Matthew Graybosch 9 months ago

    Thanks for bringing back OMNI. It was one of the few bright spots of my childhood, even though I didn’t grok everything I read.

  29. SmilingAhab 9 months ago

    The era of absolute consumerism robbed our civilization of the fecundity of imagination. Let’s hope the new OMNI can put a knife in this raging monster of mindless self-indulgence.

  30. Terry 8 months ago

    I’m glad to see Omni coming back in a new format. I used to look forward every month to getting my new issue and opening it up to see what new discovery’s where inside.

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