by Kenn Thomas
Good news! The new Steamshovel-related book, Conspiracy Files, is now available in Australia. The publishers plan US and UK editions some time in the near future, but anxious readers who want to check it out right way, go to www.murdochbooks.com.au/conspiracy.htm and have it shipped.
The book has a slick, color, nice interior graphics, hardback design.
It presents a gamut of historical conspiracy information useful to the novice and at the same time a wealth of arcane detail that will satisfy even veteran conspiracy watchers that they came away learning something new. Kinda like an issue of Steamshovel.
That leads to the bad news. As many readers have noticed, the Steamshovel has stalled for some time now. It has no advertising revenue streams and the subscription money it brings in has been barely enough over the years to get its motor to turn over.
For many months it has survived only on the well wishes of its considerable and devoted audience. Alas, with the last round of postal and printer increases, even that no longer makes it possible to continue to produce the hard copy magazine for the present time.
This conclusion fell upon Steamshovel with one issue left under production, and this in turn led to a survival strategy. Steamshovel Press #23 is now available electronically, as a PDF file. For subscribers, this means that they need only supply their e-mail address to have it sent. Newbies can receive it for $10, payable the standard way (via money order or check payable to "Kenn Thomas" at POB 210553, St. Louis, MO 63121), or via Steamshovel's new PayPal account.
It may be possible to salvage Steamshovel from the junk yard of conspiracy zines past if this new electronic form of the magazine sells well, with the goal of bringing back the hard copy. Steamshovel can produce a new hard copy for as little as a thousand dollars, and in this era of niche marketing that's not such a large amount.
In addition, however, finally moving all the way into electronic publishing may push the operation into new realms. If this works, Steamshovel has plans to make available a wide range of materials from its archives through electronic format, including PDFs of many classic Steamshovel books; other arcane an underground literature; and DVDs of things taken from the airwaves and public events that shed new light on the parapolitical environs.
The first of this new product line: the lecture I gave at Conspiracy Con in San Jose earlier this year. This hour-long DVD costs $10, post paid. Its title: "Parapolitics On the Planet Earth", and in it I explore the changing meaning of the JFK assassination in the popular culture, replete with video of the Zapruder film; Abraham Zapruder himself just in from the "shoot"; and the film's first TV airing-all of it leading to a discussion of the most currently relevant assassinations, centering on Alexander Litvinenko. Plus I cover the history of pop culture's falling out with the covert world, from the 1970s defections of the likes of John Stockwell and Phillip Agee to the Valerie Plame affair, connected as they are to the Intelligence Identities Protection Act. So it's a nice little trot over current affairs seen through the JFK prism.
None of that is a hard sell, just "what it is" in the parlance. Steamshovelpress.com remains the magazine presence on the web, and I still pop around on various conspiracy discussion lists with various insights and footnotes placing current and historical events into the perspective of the conspiracy minded reading public. Gasp, a Steamshovel blog may yet appear. The pathway back to actually producing the magazine, however, will be this electronic one, and I hope readers are willing to follow along with it.