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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