Books FB

Let’s Read Omni, July 1985!

Omni was a science and science fiction magazine published from 1978 to 1995. Founded by Penthouse founder Bob Guccione and his wife Kathy Keeton, the magazine published science fiction short stories and a mix of articles on serious science and the paranormal. The magazine’s lasting legacy is in its role as a launcher for publishing stories from names like Orson Scott Card, William Gibson, Stephen King, etc. early in their careers. The magazine abruptly stopped production in 1995 after the death of Kathy Keeton, but was attempted to reboot in 2013 as a quarterly based on a wealth of previously unpublished material. It, sadly, only lasted one issue.

My first flip-through of this issue gave me a lot of pause with how many cigarette, liquor, and car ads seemed to make up the majority of advertising space, rather garishly at odds with the magazine’s nerdy self-serious content. But I guess if Guccione is publishing the thing, it makes sense that he’d be able to pull in solid sponsorship. Nerds smoke and drink and drove cars in 1985 too.

“In thirty years, this pristine desert space will be home to a glittering Google Pixel promotional booth at something called…Coachella.”

I didn’t want to include the full text of the short stories for potential copyright reasons, but they are easy to find elsewhere on the Internet if you’re interested.

Thanks for the poverty-shaming, AT&T.

“Following the 1989 model year, Lincoln-Mercury withdrew Merkur, making it one of the shortest-lived automotive brands in the modern American automotive industry, lasting only one year longer than Ford’s earlier, more prominent failure, the Edsel.”

You know who needs some gin? This woman trying to have a nice time painting on the beach with her annoying boyfriend pulling on her like a kindergartner!

I think the enthusiasm for speculating about human cloning really cooled off when we figured out that cloning doesn’t produce an identical phenotype. However, cloned race horses are totally a thing nowadays so that’s kinda weird when you think about how much we don’t think about it anymore.

…not that I haven’t totally looked into the process of cloning my cat when he dies, because he is worthy of immortality.

This is a thing that keeps the police from being able to detect your speed while you’re driving. Maybe it’s that I don’t drive, or maybe it’s that I’m a particularly law-abiding citizen, but who would care enough about their apparently god-given right to drive above the speed limit to bother owning this thing?

Such meaning! Such beauty! Such interest!

It would have been way cooler if they had just left the copper as it was so that each statue could oxidize differently, but whatever.

Somehow I don’t think this is a promotion that would work today.

This 80’s Steed and Peel Avengers reboot is off to a real weird start. Someone help that poor woman with her pica disorder!

Cute, Lou, cute.

He likes oysters, She likes pearls
He likes white wine, She likes rum and tonic
He likes BMWs, She likes rum
He likes cologne, She likes rum
He likes motorcycles, She likes rum
He likes, She rum
, rum

A few things – of course I had to look up what was at that address in Berkeley now, and it’s just a sad little empty office building. What I could find of Paperback Software was that it was a short lived spreadsheet software company that was doomed to death by slow and crippling litigation from the start because it was immediately accused of ripping off Lotus 1-2-3. Real gripping stuff.

I’m not sure what the letter regarding the plight of mimes is all about, but I’d like to thank Karen for writing it.

“Testicular hypothermia device” sure puts one in the mood for making babies, doesn’t it?

Adjusted value of $400 in 2019 dollars: $937. Would you be interested in dropping nearly a thousand dollars on a primitive TIVO-esque prototype device that the inventor can’t even get through a description of without also breaking into an anecdote about how flawed it is?

I’m not sure if the technology to pause the recording on a VCR and then resume was around in 1986, but I remember that when recording things off the TV, if you didn’t want commercials you’d just pause the recording and resume it when the show came back in order to “edit” them out. It was kind of not a big deal?

Celebrity Dentist Irwin Smigel – father of cosmetic dentistry and also father of Robert!

The secret life of comedians: they are all damaged, broken people who desperately seek the validation of the society that rejected them as children. Yeah, sounds right to be honest.

Oh, the 80s, when paying for a cheeseburger with cash in Miami was enough to get you fried.

Unattractive beast?? What did this peace-loving wombat ever do to you! Sadly, it remains critically endangered.

Now THAT is a man with flammable hair.

So I guess as someone taking this quiz about the future while in “the future” that is actually the past, that makes me the Omni Future Quotient, which is totally the name that I will take on whenever I become a Cosmic Guardian of Time. Some of these we can answer now, some we can’t, given that we’re only about 20 years into the 21st century. I also think question 13 is kind of murky, since isn’t all medicine intended to extend your life beyond its current state?

Spoilers – he got question 18 wrong.

How come no one seems worried about Venice sinking anymore? Did Venice get fixed?

Well, I wish we were living in Arthur C. Clarke’s 21st century.

Why do the people in these ads always look like the rich preppy villains from the asshole frat house in a bad 80’s screwball comedy?

This must be one of those “special” tequilas that make you go on a spirit quest to the astral plane.

Obviously it was the Soviets. It’s 1985, everything comes back to them.

That baboon story…what the actual hell.

I wonder if Bo Derek regrets those cornrows. Also this story sounds really racist.

Cute hat!

I get it… no, no I don’t.

The Omni TV show was originally broadcast from 1981-82, then recut into four episodes and presented as this version in 1985. I’d love to see what they predict for lifestyles in the 21st century.

Check out those graphics!

Apparently the answer is “on fire”.

Isn’t Sambuca an anise/licorice flavored liquer? Why would you want it in your orange juice.

Lord, there’s a whole book of this? That’s exhausting. I was with him until he insulted the binding quality of popular science books — man, you go TOO FAR!


That’s it for this week! Thanks as always for reading. Next time we’ll be reading Photoplay from September 1979 and crying our eyes out over the death of The King.