To­tal Re­call

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Guest writer Peter F Hamil­ton loves OMNI.

Peter F Hamil­ton, guest writer

OMNI was the glossi­est of all the glossy mag­a­zines our genre has ever pro­duced. I bought the very first edi­tion ( and still have it) which came out in Oc­to­ber 1978, and the rea­son I knew in ad­vance it was com­ing out was from the TV ad­vert. Yeah, that’s right, a TV ad­vert for an SF- themed mag­a­zine! I said OMNI was glossy, and that meant money, lots of money. Backed by Bob Guc­cione of Pent­house, er, fame, it drew in plenty of ex­pen­sive full page ad­ver­tis­ing; where else could you get colour ads for big aero­space com­pa­nies along­side fine wines and Jo­van Sex Ap­peal Af­ter­shave ( no I’m not kid­ding, that was a real cologne). Back then OMNI was an amaz­ing blend of SF, sci­ence and the para­nor­mal, with the most won­drous art­work. That first edi­tion even had a t- shirt iron- on page fea­tur­ing the space shut­tle En­ter­prise on its drop flight test. See, you just don’t get that in to­day’s we­bzines.

So apart from the gloss, what made OMNI so mem­o­rable? Well, for a start, there was the fic­tion. Over the first few years sub­scribers were treated to Wil­liam Gib­son, George RR Martin ( writ­ing SF), Asi­mov, Fred­erik Pohl – ba­si­cally all the SF roy­alty of the day. The in­ter­views: Free­man Dyson, Alvin Toffler, Robert Red­ford, and Al­bert Hof­mann, among oth­ers. The monthly Con­tin­uum sec­tion, a sub­limely bonkers ver­sion of To­mor­row’s World printed on eye- killing sil­ver pages, de­tailed all the fu­ture prod­ucts and ideas that would be in ev­ery home real soon now. In­tel­li­gent ar­ti­cles which ex­plained sci­ence for the ev­ery­man, along with the more quirky pieces on UFOs and psy­chic abil­i­ties. OMNI was also an un­apolo­getic space ad­vo­cate, the holy grail for those of us suf­fer­ing Apollo pro­gram with­drawal symp­toms. And then there was the art­work and pho­tog­ra­phy, which is where that high qual­ity gloss re­ally paid off. There wasn’t an is­sue I didn’t stare at and mar­vel at the re­al­is­tic fu­ture it re­vealed in ex­quis­ite de­tail.

Ask any SF writer of my gen­er­a­tion about it, and they’ll pro­duce a fond smile of rec­ol­lec­tion. We were all in­spired by OMNI. Damn, even the cartoons were funny.

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