- US popular-science magazine which includes fiction; monthly, current to April 1995 but (see below) slick, small- BEDSHEET size, \#1 Oct 1978, published by Omni Publications International, New York.Because it has a high circulation - at times topping 1 million - and because it pays the highest rates for fiction, Omni has a prestige in sf circles out of proportion to the actual number of stories it publishes (seldom more than 2 per issue, 1 per issue through most of the early 1990s). Founded by BobGuccione of Penthouse magazine as a sister periodical, O has been one of the big success stories of US MAGAZINE publishing: lavishly illustrated in colour, publishing science articles ranging from the demanding through the gosh-wow to features on only marginally scientific, sometimes New-Age subjects like parapsychology and UFOS, O does not depend on fiction for its sales, and has been fortunate in having fiction editors who have kept the standard quite high; they have been Ben BOVA (Oct 1978-Dec 1979), Robert SHECKLEY (Jan 1980-Sep 1981) and Ellen DATLOW (Oct 1981-current).Bova was also executive editor Jan 1980-Aug 1981; the present executive editor is Keith Ferrell, an sf enthusiast who is soliciting more nonfiction from sf writers, thus increasing the sf presence in the magazine.However, circulation figures kept dropping from the peak in 1988 of over one million. In Oct 1992 Omni changed from perfectbound to staplebound. In that same year most of the staff (but not Datlow) was moved to North Carolina. There were only 11 issues in 1993, but they included the enormous 15th-anniversary Oct 1993 issue, which published Harlan ELLISON's "Mefisto in Onyx". Circulation rose a little in 1994, butit was still down 25% on the 1988 figures. The difficulties came to a head in March 1995 when it was announced that Omni as a monthly would change to electronic publishing, to be available as Omni Online through America Online. The printed version would continue as a quarterly availablethrough newsstands only, all subscriptions being cancelled. Datlow would continue as fiction editor.O's fiction has, interestingly, not put a high premium on hard science; indeed, especially in later years, it has often published SCIENCE FANTASY, pure FANTASY and MAINSTREAM fiction with a small sf twist to it. This has been attributed (1991) by Datlow to the higher quality overall of fantasy submissions relative to sf submissions, rather than to any change of policy. As fiction editor, Datlow has pulled in the big names but also done much for the careers of novice writers. For example, Ted Chiang's novelette "Tower of Babylon" (Omni 1990), his first story, won a NEBULA. Among the other award-winning Omni novelettes and short stories have been "Sandkings" (1979) by George R.R. MARTIN (HUGO and Nebula), "The Way of Cross and Dragon" (1979) also by Martin (Hugo), "Morning Child" (1984) by Gardner DOZOIS (Nebula), "Tangents" (1986) byGreg BEAR (Hugo and Nebula), "Permafrost" (1986) by Roger ZELAZNY (Hugo), "Schrodinger's Kitten" (1988) by George Alec EFFINGER (Hugo and Nebula) and "At the Rialto" (1989) by Connie WILLIS (Nebula). Omni has also published work of some literary distinction by Thomas M. DISCH and John CROWLEY, supported the eccentric talent of Howard WALDROP and theCYBERPUNK of William GIBSON and Bruce STERLING, and generally had an honourable, imaginative publishing record. Although Datlow is on record as liking very much some stories she would still not accept for Omni, she seems to have made remarkably few concessions, in O's fiction, to its mass-market audience.A UK version, Omni: Book of the Future, featuring new UK material and US reprints, ed Jack Schofield, was test-launched as aweekly partwork in Nov 1981 in the UK West Country by Eaglemoss Publications; it lasted only 4 weeks and never received nationaldistribution.Anthologies based on Omni are The Best of Omni Science Fiction (anth 1980) ed Bova and Don Myrus, \#2 (anth 1981) ed Bova andMyrus, \#3 (anth 1982) ed Bova and Myrus, \#4 (anth 1982) ed Bova and Myrus, \#5 (anth 1983) ed Myrus, \#6 (anth 1983) ed Myrus-all but the first of these containing original fiction in addition to reprints - The First Omni Book of Science Fiction (anth 1983) ed Datlow, The Second Omni Book ofScience Fiction (anth 1983) ed Datlow, The Third Omni Book of Science Fiction (anth 1985) ed Datlow, The Fourth Omni Book of Science Fiction (anth 1985) ed Datlow, The Fifth Omni Book of Science Fiction (anth 1987; includes 1 original story) ed Datlow, The Sixth Omni Book of Science Fiction (anth 1989; includes 1 original story) ed Datlow and The SeventhOmni Book of Science Fiction (anth 1989; includes 1 original story) ed Datlow.PN
Science Fiction and Fantasy Encyclopedia. Academic. 2011.