Tag: Ellen Datlow

The return of OMNI and unexpected happy

I am, dear reader, not a happy person. Not to get too personal, but I have of late been dealing with rather major life-altering situations, in addition to having people I love and care deeply about also dealing with major issues. To make it plain, I am a deeply unhappy, depressed person.

But today, I found a glimmer of happy that is touching me in very deep, profound, if likely brief, ways. I picked up the first copy of the return of OMNI Magazine to print.

OMNI was the first non-kids magazine I ever got. Something about the cover appealed to me, something about science or aliens or something I’m sure, and so my mom bought the 12 year old me my first copy, around 1983. And I was hooked, hard. And for the next 6 or 8 years, I had a continuous subscription to the magazine. I kept every one in stacks, in boxes. I waited for each new issue with anticipation and greeted it with glee. I have the most fond memories of my teen years around OMNI….

It’s where I first learned of the author and grandfather of cyberpunk, William Gibson; it’s where I read stories by Stephen King (well, aside from every book of his I bought during the same ages); discovered the biohorror art of H.R. Gieger; and it’s also where I fell into mad crush with editor Ellen Datlow. (Yes, teenage me recognized editor’s contributions to magazines and actually crushed on one — I wear the nerd mantle with pride.) I was sad when the print OMNI shut down in the 90s, and tried to keep up with the changes it went through online, but nothing ever stuck.

Then only a couple of days ago I heard of its return after more than 20 years to print! I was overjoyed! And so today, on a long-needed “day off” from life, I stopped into my area Powell’s Bookstore, and there it was. Glorious and beautiful, the quasi-futuristic font of the title as I remembered it sitting atop some surreal art cover. It’s a bit pricey for even a quarterly magazine, I think, but I happily plunked my $11 down to contribute to the funding of something that had made my teen years far more rich and interesting, and is now trying to come back in this age of dying print.

Naturally, being a cynic, my excitement was tinged with expectation of being let down by it being a shadow of the former (remembered) glory. Would the new iteration measure up? Would it be a cheap ploy for the parent company to capitalize, for maybe a short-lived issue or two, on nostalgia?

As I sit here flipping through the contents and the masthead, my glee solidifies! There’s an interview with William Gibson of all people! One of the fiction contributors is Nancy Kress. There are thoughtful articles on A.I., time travel, and deep space exploration. And, what’s that?? Ellen Datlow is the fiction editor? The eff you say!

But, since “growing up” and becoming a hardcore skeptic, something I had to come to terms with the old OMNI of my youth was that it often put good science fact alongside sensational pseudoscience and absurdity. (Which really is the worst… with sites like Natural News you know pretty much everything they publish is complete BS, but when a source mixes good science with bad, the bad gains some amount of unearned credulity.) So my heart skipped a beat when I saw one of the new magazine’s contributing editors is a skepticism hero of mine, Michael Shermer!

And wait, what’s this I see? All the chief editors and directors are women! Half the staff and contributing editors are women! The feminist in me cries for joy!

Welcome back, OMNI magazine! You seem to be marrying the foundation and nostalgia of your heyday with a modern, aware, and rational new outlook and approach. With that, I am now happily looking for subscription information….

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An Omnibus of OMNI!

Just learned today something I should have known for a very long time but for some reason has completely escaped my radar. Every edition of OMNI Magazine is available for free on the Internet Archive! How has that missed me completely? Thank you Io9 and Patrick. (When you click on the Internet Archive link, you need to scroll down and click “more” to get to the full magazine archive.)

I started reading OMNI when I was about twelve, around 1983. I remember taking the long road trip from Colorado to Missouri to visit family, and the parents allowing us kids to get a magazine. The cover of this OMNI magazine in the rack was compelling and promised SF fiction and science news, so I convinced her to get this somewhat pricey glossy mag for me. I was hooked! I begged for copies every month after until finally I was gifted a subscription. It was probably the longest subscription to a magazine I ever had (mainly because until I was old enough to have a job, it was paid for by someone else) and I think I was getting them right up until about 1989.

I don’t really recall OMNI being on shelves much after that. But those formative six years entrenched OMNI as being an integral part of who I am. Yeah, weird, huh? But it’s from OMNI that I learned about William Gibson’s fiction and started me on cyberpunk, made me familiar with the name Ellen Datlow and made a teenager a fan of an editor, of all things. (Wow, I was and am such a nerd!) …and I’m still a huge fan. The magazine was a slick, stylish, almost exploitative companion to the SF genre and exploding science culture. I believe it was a forward-thinking contribution, years ahead of its time, to the cool-making of geekness. Back then, in the 80s, it was still a social stigma to be geeky or nerdy, to be too into computers and genre fiction, and know more about the space program than what was mentioned in weekly readers regarding the shuttles. If you read SF and liked Carl Sagan, you were pariah as a kid.

But little did we know that in 15 or 20 years, geek would be chic, and OMNI helped lay the groundwork for that! Loving looking through these very familiar past issues that I’d read and reread so many times as a young nerd.

 

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Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears; redux.

I read Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling) when it first came out in 1995. I bought and read… no, devoured all of the collections of “modern fairy tales” when I was an undergrad those early 90s — Snow White, Blood Red, Black Thorn, White Rose, etc. Now, the series is being re-released for a new audience and I’d like to take the opportunity to review the third book in the series… in what I’m afraid is a rather mixed review.

The edition I’m reviewing is a reprint — and when I say “reprint,” that’s exactly what it is. The version of the book I received, as the new reprint, has the cover seen here and a publishing date of 1996 under Prime Books. The original mass market paperback I have was from Avon Books and released 1995 (although Barnes and Noble is showing it published in a different year and publisher than I’m looking at right now in the book itself). Amazon shows another cover for Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears also published by Prime, but listed as 2008. There are a couple more covers and ISBNs available through Amazon and B&N. Regardless of this very confusing collection of Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears iterations, one thing I can deduce from my looking and primarily from comparing the two editions in my hands, is that while there may be a multitude of covers the insides are exactly the same. Exactly! From the table of contents and the introduction straight through to the intros for each story and the very page numbering, the contents of the books are identical.

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