Cover of the October 1984 edition.
|Categories||science and science fiction magazine|
|First issue||October 1978|
|Final issue||Winter 1995 (print)
|Company||General Media, Inc.|
|Based in||New York City|
Omni was a science and science fiction magazine published in the US and the UK. It contained articles on science, parapsychology, and short works of science fiction and fantasy. It was published as a print version between October 1978 and 1995. The first Omni e-magazine was published on CompuServe in 1986 and the magazine switched to a purely online presence in 1996. It ceased publication abruptly in 1997, following the death of co-founder Kathy Keeton, and closed down in 1998.
Omni was founded by Kathy Keeton and her long-time collaborator and future husband Bob Guccione, the publisher of Penthouse magazine. The initial concept came from Keeton, who wanted a magazine "that explored all realms of science and the paranormal, that delved into all corners of the unknown and projected some of those discoveries into fiction."
Author and former Good Housekeeping editor Dick Teresi wrote the proposal for the magazine, from which a dummy was produced. In pre-launch publicity it was referred to as Nova but the name was changed before the first issue went to print to avoid a conflict with the PBS science show of the same name. Guccione described the magazine as "an original if not controversial mixture of science fact, fiction, fantasy and the paranormal". The very first edition had an exclusive interview with renowned physicist, Freeman Dyson, the second edition with American writer and futurist, Alvin Toffler.
In its early run, Omni published a number of stories that have become genre classics, such as Orson Scott Card's "Unaccompanied Sonata", William Gibson's "Burning Chrome", "New Rose Hotel" and "Johnny Mnemonic", and George R. R. Martin's "Sandkings". The magazine also published original science fiction and fantasy by William S. Burroughs, Joyce Carol Oates, Jonathan Carroll, Julio Cortazar, T. Coraghessan Boyle, and other mainstream writers. The magazine excerpted Stephen King's novel Firestarter, and featured a short story, "The End of the Whole Mess". Omni also brought the works of numerous painters to the attention of a large audience, such as H. R. Giger, De Es Schwertberger and Rallé. In the early 1980s, popular fiction stories from Omni were reprinted in "The Best of Omni Science Fiction" series and featured art by space artists like Robert McCall.
Omni entered the market at the start of a wave of new science magazines aimed at educated but otherwise "non-professional" readers. Science Digest and Science News already served the high-school market, and Scientific American and New Scientist the professional, while Omni was arguably the first aimed at "armchair scientists" who were nevertheless well informed about technical issues. The next year, however, Time introduced Discover while the AAAS introduced Science '80. Advertising dollars were spread among the different magazines, and those without deep pockets soon folded in the early 1980s, notably Science Digest, while Science '80 merged with Discover. Omni appeared to weather this storm better than most, likely due to its wider selection of contents. In early 1996 publisher Bob Guccione suspended publication of the print edition of Omni, attributing the decision to the rising price of paper and postage. At the end of its print run the circulation was still reported to be more than 700,000 copies a month. 
In 1997, Keeton died from complications of breast cancer. The staff of Omni Internet was laid off, and no new content was added to the website after April 1998. General Media shut the site down and removed the Omni archives from the Internet in 2003.
International editions 
Omni magazine was published in at least six markets. The content in the British editions closely followed the North American editions, but with a different numbering sequence and British advertising. At least one British edition was entirely unique and was shipped under the banner of Omni UK. The first foreign language edition was published in the Soviet Union in 1989 in conjunction with the USSR Academy of Sciences. These editions were 80% in English and featured both Russian and English advertising. The Italian edition was edited by Albert Peruzzo and ran for 20 issues from 1981 to 1983. The Japanese edition ran from at least 1982 to 1989. German and Spanish editions were also published.
After the print magazine folded in 1996, the Omni Internet webzine was launched on September 15th of that year. Free of pressure to focus on fringe science areas, Omni returned to its roots as the home of gonzo science writing, becoming one of the first large-scale venues to deliver a journalism geared specifically to cyberspace, complete with real-time coverage of major science events, chats and blogs with scientific luminaries, and interactive experiments that users could join. The world's top science fiction writers also joined in, writing collaborative fiction pieces for Omni's readers live online.
A short-lived syndicated television show based on the magazine's format (and called Omni: The New Frontier) aired in the United States beginning in September 1981, hosted by Peter Ustinov. A French-language, dubbed version of the show appeared on the Canadian public TV network Radio-Québec (now known as Télé-Québec) in 1994. In 1985 extracts of the 1981 television series were re-edited and repackaged into four television shows hosted by Keir Dullea under the title Omni: Visions of the Future. Episodes were titled Futurebody, Space, Amazing Medicine and Lifestyles in the 21st Century.
An equally short-lived spinoff magazine called Omni Comix debuted in 1995, and was published in the same glossy, newsstand magazine format as its sister publications Omni, Penthouse and Penthouse Comix. Omni Comix ran for only three issues, and the third and final issue featured an abortive revival of the classic 1960's superhero series The Thunder Agents.
Editorial staff 
The magazine was initially edited by Frank Kendig, who left several months after the magazine's launch. Ben Bova, who was hired as Fiction Editor, was promoted to Editor, leaving the magazine in 1981. After Kendig and Bova, Editors of Omni included Dick Teresi, Gurney Williams III, Patrice Adcroft, Keith Ferrell, and Pamela Weintraub (editor of Omni as one of the first major standalone webzines from 1996-1998). Kathleen Stein managed the magazine's prestigious Q&A interviews with the top scientists of the 20th century through 1998. Ellen Datlow was Associate fiction editor of Omni under Robert Sheckley for one and a half years, and took over as Fiction Editor in 1981 until the magazine folded in 1998.
See also 
- Ashley 2007, p. 367
- "Omni Internet Relaunch". Locus 36 (6). June 1996. p. 8.
- "Physical Omni Bites the Dust". Science Fiction Chronicle 17 (4). May 1996. p. 6.
- Collins, Paul (7 January 2010). "Defunct Omni magazine forecast a future of robots, telecommuting". The Washington Post (Washington, D.C.). Retrieved 2 December 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- "Omni Online Folds". Locus 40 (5). May 1998. pp. 8, 61.
- Ashley 2007, p. 368
- Ashley 2007, pp. 367–368
- "Quest for longevity entails paradoxes, compromises". Winnipeg Free Press. 17 March 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Brown, Charles. "Nova coming". Locus 208(1): January/February 1978. Cited in Ashley (2007); p.367
- "Bob Guccione wanted to start a science magazine called Nova, but was stopped by a television program of the same name — so he switched to Omni." Klingel, John (1 January 1986). "What's in a name?". Folio. Retrieved 2 December 2012. – via HighBeam Research (subscription required)
- Guccione, Bob (6 October 1978). "First word". Omni 1 (1).
- Guccione Halts Publication of Omni
- Omni Magazine Gets A Lesson In Russian - Chicago Tribune
- Omni International Editions
- Omni Advertising
- Omni Comix on Comicvine.com
- Omni Magazine Collection at the Internet Archive - An almost complete set of scanned issues.
- Omni Magazine leads the upsurge of mass-audience science journalism - Lengthy review of the magazine shortly after its introduction.
- Omni: The forgotten history of the best science magazine that ever was.