Yesterday Bob Guccione, founder of Penthouse and the man who made Malcolm McDowell fist people in Caligula, died. I’m not big into eulogies, and I find it hard to be sad when someone dies at a ripe old age of 80, but his passing did make me think of something: Omni.
Younger readers may not remember Omni, but it was possibly the greatest magazine of all time. Imagine Wired, but with the old pulp Amazing Stories mixed in; Omni dealt with science and tech for the layman, but also published incredible science fiction stories. How incredible? William Gibson’s seminal and genre-changing Burning Chrome was published there. It’s where the term ‘cyberspace’ originated.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Omni, in its best years, featured Q&As that treated top scientists like rock stars, had new work from the likes of William S. Burroughs, Joyce Carol Oates and Stephen King. Nestled between those were crazy stories about UFOs and other paranormal stuff. As you can imagine this was like catnip to a young me.
Sadly the magazine, which was founded in 1981, folded in 1995. It chugged along on the web until 1998. And now, like founder and publisher Bob Guccione, it is no more. But unlike Bob Guccione, Omni could and should come back. Imagine a 21st century version of the mag, one that is optimized for the iPad, one that publishes the best weird fiction from a burgeoning field of great new weird fiction writers, one that mixes the tech stuff that Wired does well with big, head spinning physics and astronomy stories. I’d buy that sucker in a minute.