Omni, the Iconic Sci-Fi Magazine, Now Digitized in High-Resolution and Available Online

There was a time, not so long ago, when not only could a blockbuster Hollywood comedy make a reference to a science magazine, but everyone in the audience would get that reference. It happened in Ghostbusters, right after the titular boys in gray hit it big with their first high-profile busting of a ghost. In true 1980s style, a success montage followed, in the middle of which appeared the cover of Omni magazine's October 1984 issue which, according to the Ghostbusters Wiki, "featured a Proton Pack and Particle Thrower. The tagline read, 'Quantum Leaps: Ghostbusters' Tools of the Trade.'"

The movie made up that cover, but it didn't make up the publication. In reality, the cover of Omni's October 1984 issue, a special anniversary edition which appears at the top of the magazine's Wikipedia page today, promised predictions of "Love, Work & Play in the 21st Century" from the likes of beloved sci-fi writer Ray Bradbury, social psychologist Stanley Milgram, physicist Gerard O'Neill, trend-watcher John Naisbitt — and, of course, Ronald Reagan. Now you can find that issue of Omni, as well as every other from its 1978-to-1995 run, digitized in high-resolution and made available on Amazon.




"Omni was a magazine about the future," writes Motherboard's Claire Evans, telling the story of "the best science magazine that ever was." In its heyday, it blew minds by regularly featuring extensive Q&As with some of the top scientists of the 20th century–E.O. Wilson, Francis Crick, Jonas Salk–tales of the paranormal, and some of the most important science fiction to ever see magazine publication" by William Gibson, Orson Scott Card, Harlan Ellison, George R. R. Martin — and even the likes of Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, and William S. Burroughs. "By coupling science fiction and cutting-edge science news, the magazine created an atmosphere of possibility, where even the most outrageous ideas seemed to have basis in fact."

Originally founded by Kathy Keeton (formerly, according to Evans, "a South African ballerina who went from being one of the highest-paid strippers in Europe") and Penthouse publisher Bob Guccione, Omni not only had an impact in unexpected areas (the eccentric musical performer Klaus Nomi, himself a cultural innovator, took his name in part from the magazine's) but took steps into the digital realm long before other print publications dared. It first established its online presence on Compuserve in 1986; seven years later, it opened up its archives, along with forums and new content, on America Online, a first for any major magazine. Now Amazon users can purchase Omni's digital back issues for $2.99 each, or read them for free if they have Kindle Unlimited accounts. (You can sign up for a 30-day free trial for Kindle Unlimited and start binge-reading Omni here.)

Jerrick Media, owners of the Omni brand, have also begun to make available on Vimeo on Demand episodes of Omni: The New Frontier, the 1980s syndicated television series hosted by Peter Ustinov. And without paying a dime, you can still browse the fascinating Omni material archived at Omni Magazine Online, an easy way to get a hit of the past's idea of the future — and one presenting, in the words of 1990s editor-in-chief Keith Farrell, "a fascination with science and speculation, literature and art, philosophy and quirkiness, serious speculation and gonzo speculation, the health of the planet and its cultures, our relationship to the universe and its (possible) cultures, and a sense that whatever else, tomorrow would be different from today."

via The Verge

Related Content:

The Popular Science Digital Archive Lets You Explore Every Science and Technology-Filled Edition Since 1872

Download Issues of “Weird Tales” (1923-1954): The Pioneering Pulp Horror Magazine Features Original Stories by Lovecraft, Bradbury & Many More

Spy Magazine (1986-1998) Now Online

Download Influential Avant-Garde Magazines from the Early 20th Century: Dadaism, Surrealism, Futurism & More

Rock Scene: Browse a Complete Online Archive of the Irreverent Magazine That Chronicled the 1970s Rock & Punk Scene

A Complete Digitization of the 1960s Magazine Avant Garde: From John Lennon’s Erotic Lithographs to Marilyn Monroe’s Last Photos

A Complete Digitization of Eros Magazine: The Controversial 1960s Magazine on the Sexual Revolution

Download the Complete Archive of Oz, “the Most Controversial Magazine of the 60s,” Featuring R. Crumb, Germaine Greer & More

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

 

240 Hours of Relaxing, Sleep-Inducing Sounds from Sci-Fi Video Games: From Blade Runner to Star Wars

Need to put a little geek in your sleep? We've got just what you need...

Back in 2009, the musician dubbed Cheesy Nirvosa" began experimenting with ambient music, before launching a YouTube channel where he "composes longform space and scifi ambience," much of it designed to help you relax, or ideally fall asleep. He calls the videos "ambient geek sleep aids."

You can sample his work with the playlist above. Called "Video Game Relaxation Sounds," the playlist features "long relaxing soundscapes from video games." Sci-fi video games, to be precise. The playlist gives you access to 21 soundscapes, running more than 240 hours in total. Lull yourself to sleep, for example, with ambient sounds from the 1997 Blade Runner video game, a "sidequel" to the Ridley Scott film. Or de-stress with this ambient noise produced by the A/SF-01 B-Wing Starfighter. It's taken from this 2001 Star Wars game created by LucasArts.

Stream the playlist above. And hope you enjoy dreaming of electric sheep.

Related Content:

10 Hours of Ambient Arctic Sounds Will Help You Relax, Meditate, Study & Sleep

Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion Sleep Plan: He Slept Two Hours a Day for Two Years & Felt “Vigorous” and “Alert”

The Power of Power Naps: Salvador Dali Teaches You How Micro-Naps Can Give You Creative Inspiration

Edward Gorey Illustrates H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds in His Inimitable Gothic Style (1960)

The story of malicious space aliens invading Earth has a resonance that knows no national boundaries. In fact, many modern versions make explicit the moral that only fighting off an existential threat from another planet could unify the inherently fractious human species. H.G. Wells' 1898 novel The War of the Worlds, in many ways the archetypal telling of the space-invaders tale, certainly proved compelling on both sides of the pond: though set in Wells' homeland of England, it made a lasting impact on American culture when Orson Welles produced a thoroughly localized version for radio, his infamous War of the Worlds Halloween 1938 broadcast. (Listen to it here.)

And so who better to illustrate a mid-2oth-century edition of the novel than Edward Gorey? He was born in and spent nearly all his life in America, but developed an artistic sensibility that struck its many appreciators as uncannily mid-Atlantic. His work continues to draw descriptions like "Victorian" and "gothic," surely underscored by his association with the British literature-adapting television show Mystery!, for whose title sequences he drew characters and settings, and the young-adult gothic mystery novels of Anglophile author John Bellairs. The Gorey-illustrated War of the Worlds came out in 1960 from Looking Glass Library, featuring his drawings not just at the top of each chapter but on its wraparound cover as well. Though out of print, you can find old copies for sale online.

Gorey had begun his career in the early 1950s at the art department of publisher Doubleday Anchor, creating book covers and occasionally interior illustrations. In addition to Bellairs' novels, he would also go on to put his artistic stamp on such literary classics as Bram Stoker's Dracula and T.S. Eliot's Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats, bringing to each his signature combination of whimsy and dread in just the right proportions. Given the inherent ominousness and threat of The War of the Worlds, Gorey's dark side comes to the fore as the story's long-legged terrors arrive and wreak havoc on Earth, only to fall victim to common disease.

Gorey's War of the Worlds illustrations also seem to draw some inspiration from the very first ones that accompanied the novel upon its initial publication as a Pearson's Magazine serial in 1897. You can compare and contrast them by browsing the high-resolution scans of the out-of-print 1960 Looking Glass Library War of the Worlds at this online exhibition at Loyola University Chicago Digital Special Collections, in partnership with the Edward Gorey Charitable Trust.

Though conceptually similar to the illustrations in Pearson's, drawn by an artist (usually of children's books) named Warwick Goble, they don't get into quite as much detail — but then, they don't have to. To evoke a complex mixture of fascinated anticipation and creeping fear, Gorey never needed more than an old house, a huddle of silhouettes, or a pair of eyes glowing in the darkness.

via Heavy Metal

Related Content:

The Very First Illustrations of H.G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds (1897)

Horrifying 1906 Illustrations of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds: Discover the Art of Henrique Alvim Corrêa

Hear Orson Welles’ Iconic War of the Worlds Broadcast (1938)

The Great Leonard Nimoy Reads H.G. Wells’ Seminal Sci-Fi Novel The War of the Worlds

Hear the Prog-Rock Adaptation of H.G. Wells’ War of the Worlds: The 1978 Rock Opera That Sold 15 Million Copies Worldwide

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

The Official Trailer for Ridley Scott’s Long-Awaited Blade Runner Sequel Is Finally Out

Ridley Scott's Blade Runner (1982) has provided us material for many posts over the years (find some favorites below). If his upcoming sequel Blade Runner 2049 yields half as much, we'll count ourselves lucky.

The official trailer for the new film came out today. Look for the film in theaters on October 6th.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

Philip K. Dick Previews Blade Runner: “The Impact of the Film is Going to be Overwhelming” (1981)

Watch an Animated Version of Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner Made of 12,597 Watercolor Paintings

Stream 72 Hours of Ambient Sounds from Blade Runner: Relax, Go to Sleep in a Dystopian Future

The Art of Making Blade Runner: See the Original Sketchbook, Storyboards, On-Set Polaroids & More

The Original Blade Runner Promotional Film

How Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner Illuminates the Central Problem of Modernity

Watch Tears In the Rain: A Blade Runner Short Film–A New, Unofficial Prequel to the Ridley Scott Film

Blade Runner Gets Re-Created, Shot for Shot, Using Only Microsoft Paint

Blade Runner is a Waste of Time: Siskel & Ebert in 1982

30 Hours of Doctor Who Audio Dramas Now Free to Stream Online

"Yes, this should provide adequate sustenance for the Doctor Who marathon," once said The Simpsons' Comic Book Guy while pushing a wheelbarrow full of fast-food tacos down the street. As the embodiment of fandom for all things fantasy and sci-fi, he would certainly know that Doctor Who, no longer an obscure BBC television show but an ever-expanding fictional universe with a global fan base, constitutes the ideal material for binge-watching, which he could now do at his convenience on a service like Britbox. But it isn't just watching: now, on Spotify (whose free software you can download here if you don't have it already), you can binge-listen to thirty straight hours of Doctor Who audio dramas as well.

"An icon of modern British culture and the longest-running science-fiction TV show in history, Doctor Who has never been more popular than it is today," wrote Christopher Bahn in the AV Club's 2010 primer on the series, which had relaunched five years earlier after initially running from 1963 to 1989. "No matter who’s playing the lead, the basic premise has been essentially the same since the show’s debut: A mysterious, eccentric alien known only as The Doctor (not 'Doctor Who,' in spite of the title) travels through time and space having adventures and fighting evil. He’s usually accompanied by one or two humans picked up along the way. They journey with him in a time machine called a TARDIS, which looks like a blue phone booth."




This format "allowed the show to literally go anywhere in the universe and sometimes outside it, with virtually limitless storytelling possibilities." At its best, "Doctor Who relied on solid, imaginative scripts to create smart science-fiction thrillers with a humanistic, anti-authoritarian heart. Consistently popular through the 1960s and 1970s, the show began to falter in the following decade as tight budgets and questionable artistic choices took their toll." After its cancellation in 1989, Doctor Who "lived on through the ’90s, as science-fiction shows often do, in the wilderness genres of semi-official novels and radio plays."

The best known of these Doctor Who radio plays, which you can hear on this playlist, come produced by a company called Big Finish. Having acquired a license from the BBC in 1999 (and recently renewed it into 2025), they've put out a range of audio dramas, both one-offs and series of various lengths, using not just the characters but many of the actual actors from the television show, including six of those who have taken on the iconic Doctor role onscreen. Owing to the fact that Doctor Who officially has no canon and thus no need for continuity, rigorous or otherwise, they can get even more imaginative than their source material, going so far as to explore counterfactual storylines such as one where the Doctor never leaves his home planet in the first place.

Below you'll find a complete list, assembled by a fan on Reddit, of the series and episodes of Big Finish's Doctor Who audio dramas now available on Spotify. The material comes to thirty hours in total, but the question of when to listen to it falls second to a more important consideration: what sort of sustenance will best ensure that you can keep up with all of the Doctor's audio adventures?

Main Range:

  1. The Sirens of Time
  2. Phantasmagoria
  3. Whispers of Terror
  4. The Land of the Dead
  5. The Fearmonger
  6. The Marian Conspiracy
  7. The Genocide Machine
  8. Red Dawn
  9. The Spectre of Lanyon Moor
  10. Winter for the Adept
  11. The Apocalypse Element
  12. The Fires of Vulcan
  13. The Shadow of the Scourge
  14. The Holy Terror
  15. The Mutant Phase
  16. Storm Warning
  17. Sword of Orion
  18. The Stones of Venice
  19. Minuet in Hell
  20. Loups-Garoux
  21. Dust Breeding
  22. Bloodtide
  23. Project: Twilight
  24. The Eye of the Scorpion
  25. Colditz
  26. Primeval
  27. The One Doctor
  28. Invaders from Mars
  29. The Chimes of Midnight
  30. Seasons of Fear
  31. Embrace the Darkness
  32. The Time of the Daleks
  33. Neverland
  34. Spare Parts
  35. ...ish
  36. The Rapture
  37. The Sandman
  38. The Church and the Crown
  39. Bang-Bang-a-Boom!
  40. Jubilee
  41. Nekromanteia
  42. The Dark Flame
  43. Doctor Who and the Pirates
  44. Creatures of Beauty
  45. Project: Lazarus
  46. Flip-Flop
  47. Omega
  48. Davros
  49. Master
  50. Zagreus

Special Releases:

UNIT: Dominion

The Davros Mission

Fourth Doctor Adventures:

1.01 Destination: Nerva

1.02 The Renaissance Man

1.03 The Wrath of the Iceni

1.04 Energy of the Daleks

1.05 Trail of the White Worm

1.06 The Oseidon Adventure

Eighth Doctor Adventures:

1.1 Blood of the Daleks, Part 1

1.2 Blood of the Daleks, Part 2

1.3 Horror of Glam Rock

1.4 Immortal Beloved

1.5 Phobos

1.6 No More Lies

1.7 Human Resources, Part 1

1.8 Human Resources, Part 2

The Lost Stories:

1.01 The Nightmare Fair

1.02 Mission to Magnus

1.03 Leviathan

1.04 The Hollows of Time

1.05 Paradise 5

1.06 Point of Entry

1.07 The Song of Megaptera

1.08 The Macros

Box 1. The Fourth Doctor Box Set

The Companion Chronicles:

2.1 Mother Russia

2.2 Helicon Prime

2.3 Old Soldiers

2.4 The Catalyst

Destiny of the Doctor:

  1. Hunters of Earth
  2. Shadow of Death
  3. Vengeance of the Stones
  4. Babblesphere
  5. Smoke and Mirrors
  6. Trouble in Paradise
  7. Shockwave
  8. Enemy Aliens
  9. Night of the Whisper
  10. Death's Deal
  11. The Time Machine

Short Trips:

Volume 1

Volume 2

The Stageplays:

  1. The Ultimate Adventure
  2. Seven Keys to Doomsday
  3. The Curse of the Daleks

Bernice Summerfield:

Box 2. Road Trip

Box 3. Legion

Box 4. New Frontiers

Box 5. Missing Persons

Graceless:

Series 1

Series 2

Series 3

Dalek Empire:

  1. Invasion of the Daleks
  2. The Human Factor
  3. "Death to the Daleks!"
  4. Project Infinity
  5. Dalek War: Chapter One
  6. Dalek War: Chapter Two
  7. Dalek War: Chapter Three
  8. Dalek War: Chapter Four

Jago & Litefoot:

Series 1

Series 2

Series 3

Series 4

Series 5

Counter-Measures:

Series 1

Series 2

Iris Wildthyme:

2.1 The Sound of Fear

2.2 The Land of Wonder

2.3 The Two Irises

2.4 The Panda Invasion

2.5 The Claws of Santa

Series 3

Series 4

UNIT:

  1. Time Heals
  2. Snake Head
  3. The Longest Night
  4. The Wasting

I, Davros:

  1. Innocence
  2. Purity
  3. Corruption
  4. Guilt

Cyberman:

1.1 Scorpius

1.2 Fear

1.3 Conversion

1.4 Telos

2.0 Cyberman 2

Charlotte Pollard:

Series 1

 

Related Content:

BritBox Now Streaming Now Streaming 550 Episodes of Doctor Who and Many Other British TV Shows

The BBC Creates Step-by-Step Instructions for Knitting the Iconic Doctor Who Scarf: A Document from the Early 1980s

Vincent van Gogh Visits a Modern Museum & Gets to See His Artistic Legacy: A Touching Scene from Doctor Who

42 Hours of Ambient Sounds from Blade Runner, Alien, Star Trek and Doctor Who Will Help You Relax & Sleep

The Fascinating Story of How Delia Derbyshire Created the Original Doctor Who Theme

Based in Seoul, Colin Marshall writes and broadcasts on cities and culture. He’s at work on a book about Los Angeles, A Los Angeles Primer, the video series The City in Cinema, the crowdfunded journalism project Where Is the City of the Future?, and the Los Angeles Review of Books’ Korea Blog. Follow him on Twitter at @colinmarshall or on Facebook.

How the Soviets Imagined in 1960 What the World Would Look in 2017: A Gallery of Retro-Futuristic Drawings

In one of the most impassioned and beautifully written defenses of Burkean conservatism I have ever read, the poet Wendell Berry took government projects of both the left and right to task, proclaiming in 1968 that the emergence of a massive bureaucracy was a tragic sign of the “loss of the future.” His argument is similar to one made over twenty years earlier by the Trotskyist-turned-conservative writer James Burnham, whose 1941 book The Managerial Revolution predicted “at each point,” wrote George Orwell in a thorough review, “a continuation of the thing that is happening.” A “managerial” central state, Burnham also argued, inevitably brought about a “loss of the future."

Neither the contemplative Berry nor the incisive Burnham have been able to account for one historically inescapable fact: the periods in which 20th century societies imagined the future most vividly were those most dominated by bureaucratic, technocratic, centralized political economies. This is true under conservative governments like that of the U.S. under Eisenhower, in which huge infrastructure projects—from the highway system to hydroelectric dams--- rearranged the lives of millions. And it was true under Khrushchev's Soviet state, whose Virgin Lands campaign did the same. Indeed, mid-century Soviet “expectations were pretty similar to the futuristic predictions of Americans,” writes Matt Novak, “with a touch more Communism, of course.” Unsurprising, perhaps, given that the two nations were locked in competition over the domination of both earth and space.

Novak’s understatement is fully warranted. Although the people in images like those you see here tend to appear in more collective arrangements, their sci-fi surroundings almost mirror those in the images from the U.S. that were parodied by The Jetsons two years after this 1960 collection. These detailed scenarios come from a “retro-futuristic filmstrip, which would have been played through a Diafilm,” a kind of slide projector. It’s a vision, it just so happens, of our time, 2017, but it looks backward to get there, both in its technology and its design. The illustration above, for example, “was almost certainly inspired by the Futurama exhibit from the 1939 New York World’s Fair.” (Itself built, we may note, on the shoulders of Roosevelt’s New Deal.)

You can see many more of these illustrations at Paleofuture, and at the top of the post watch a video version with “jazzy music and star wipes.” You may find these visions quaint, charming in their naiveté and inaccuracy---yet often quaintly prescient as well. Retro-futurism’s appeal to us seems to rest principally in how silly it can seem in hindsight, even when it gets things right. Perhaps it is the case that the most fully-realized, totalizing visions of tomorrow are as far-fetched as the controlling societies that produce them are unsustainable. As Bob Duggan writes at Big Think, for example, we are bound to associate the “undead art movement” of Italian Futurism with the very short-lived regime of Italian Fascism. Maybe the degree to which a government lacks a future is in inverse proportion to the intensity of its retro-futurism.

So what exactly is the relationship between state power and utopian futurism? The question invites a dissertation, and surely many have been written, as they have on the symptomology of the techno-dystopian and urban apocalyptic forms of futurism. We might begin by wondering what our actual 2017 will look like 57 years from now. What will people in 2074 make of our endless culture of revivalism, from zombie steampunk to retreads and remakes of everything from Ghost in the Shell, to The Matrix, to Star Wars? Who can say. Perhaps, for whatever sociological reason, we are suffering, as Berry put it, from a loss of the future.

 

via Paleofuture

Related Content:

Soviet Artists Envision a Communist Utopia in Outer Space

“Glory to the Conquerors of the Universe!”: Propaganda Posters from the Soviet Space Race (1958-1963)

Download 144 Beautiful Books of Russian Futurism: Mayakovsky, Malevich, Khlebnikov & More (1910-30)

Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness

BritBox Now Streaming Now Streaming 550 Episodes Doctor Who and Many Other British TV Shows

Back in the day, Americans could watch an occasional British TV show on PBS or UHF. A little Benny Hill. Some Upstairs Downstairs, but not a whole lot more.

Those days of scarcity are now long gone. Last month, BBC Worldwide and ITV launched Britbox, a streaming service that features the biggest collection of British TV shows ever. And, according to Nerdist, that collection now includes 550 classic Doctor Who episodes, originally aired between 1963 and 1989. For those not familiar with Doctor Who, Den of Geek has a handy guide that will help you get started.

Britbox currently offers a one-week free trial. Ergo, you can start binge-watching some Doctor Who shows for the next 168 hours. After the free trial, the service costs $6.99 per month, and you can cancel, hassle free, whenever you want.

Other Britbox shows include Sherlock HolmesEastEnders, Upstairs Downstairs, Blackadder, Bleak House, Inspector Morseprograms with Louis Theroux, A Stitch Through Time, and more.

Follow Open Culture on Facebook and Twitter and share intelligent media with your friends. Or better yet, sign up for our daily email and get a daily dose of Open Culture in your inbox. 

If you'd like to support Open Culture and our mission, please consider making a donation to our site. It's hard to rely 100% on ads, and your contributions will help us provide the best free cultural and educational materials.

Related Content:

The BBC Creates Step-by-Step Instructions for Knitting the Iconic Dr. Who Scarf: A Document from the Early 1980s

Vincent van Gogh Visits a Modern Museum & Gets to See His Artistic Legacy: A Touching Scene from Doctor Who

42 Hours of Ambient Sounds from Blade Runner, Alien, Star Trek and Doctor Who Will Help You Relax & Sleep

« Go BackMore in this category... »
Quantcast