Glossy geekdom

Omni Magazine!!

Every once in a while, some crazy ass random floating speckle of a disconnected memory makes a sudden appearance in my mind while I’m engaged in the most ordinary conversation or online interaction. Earlier, it was Omni Magazine that flooded back. Remember it?

Omni Magazine entered my life right around the age I was immersing myself in the annals of Analog and Isaac Asimov’s Science Fiction magazines and their otherworldly accounts of strange solar systems and unfathomable life forms. And of course, the stories were interspersed with articles on every scientific topic you could think of. Whereas Analog and Asimov’s were small, digest-sized purely textual pamphlets, Omni magazine, which was created by Penthouse’s Bob Guccione, of all people, was glossy and shiny and full of full color images and artwork. There was some fiction, much of it noteworthy, but the primary focus seemed to be the glittery displays of the faux-Penthousian nerdzine. It was great! I used to cut out photos from Omni and other graphic sci-fi oriented magazines and paste them on my Pee Chee folder. Star Wars and Battlestar Galactica adorned my school folders.

Back then I reckoned myself a future Isaac Asimov or Harlan Ellison or even a Ray Bradbury. I wrote terrible science fiction stories on my typewriter and fantasied about attending a science fiction festival in a foreign land and where I would be surrounded by a bunch of bespectacled groupies while I signed copies of my (Hugo Award-winning) book. Science fiction men are peculiar. Science fiction girls are a rare diamond. Imagine being a sci-fi girl in a room full of zit-faced, near-sighted, greasy-haired nocturnal emissioning repressed boys. Your currency skyrockets faster than you can say “Venezuelan inflation.” Sci-fi girls don’t have to be hot, they just have to be…a girl.

Omni Magazine published from 1978 through 1995. Thereafter, it appeared as an internet publication until 1998 (we had the internetz then?). This was before we came to know them as webzines, I suppose.

How I wish I held on to any of these old issues. Omni’s run segued from my repressed and asocial middle-school years right into my repressed, asocial and alienated high school years! One thing never changed: Omni Magazine and its overblown stories of future scientific Utopias and life-altering discoveries which seemed so…unreal then. I “outgrew” Omni and science fiction long before it’s natural death. There was a point in high school my youthful high-tech folly just dwindled away and was replaced by other flavor of them month hobbies. I constantly jumped from interest to interest when I was young. My callous disregard for loyalty to any brand of recreation was legendary.

I found a wonderful tribute site with copies of all the Omni covers, from beginning to end. The magazine’s contents are also listed with such jewels as, “Aging: Some Of Us May Never Die,” “Brainbuster: Omni’s All New IQ Test,” or “Love, Work & Play in the 21st Century.”

This one, from July, 1979, looks very familiar to me. This was the summer between my freshman and sophomore years. I was rapidly dovetailing into a prolonged period of social alienation and distrust…one that would last a decade. But there was always Omni Magazine, waiting to take me to other worlds where I longed to be.