Who is Robert Stanek and what are his antics?
This would fill many, many blog entries of many tens of thousands of words. Fortunately, other people have already done this. This is the most exhaustive series of entries on the subject.
Briefly, William Robert Stanek is the self-published author of many technical IT manuals. He appears to have been genuinely successful at this. He has also written several fantasy novels, although it is difficult to track how many since the numerous titles for books in his bibliography seem to be retitlings and rejacketings (most recently for YA editions) of the same couple of books. According to Stanek many of these books have been bestsellers, although the evidence for this is scant. Stanek is widely-suspected of writing the many hundreds of five-star reviews of his books on Amazon, Audible and other websites himself, due to the similar diction and writing style of almost all of these reviews (many of which have now been deleted). The situation was notable enough that, ten years ago, the multi-Hugo Award-winning critic David Langford published an investigation into Stanek's antics in his SFF newsletter Ansible, which resulted in him being threatened by Mr. Stanek's alleged 'lawyer'. Since then Stanek's antics have been discussed on quite a few blogs and forums (including by myself, on Westeros.org, SFFWorld and maybe one or two other places). However, I have not devoted too much time to this because - admittedly - I knew Stanek's MO was to come after people who had criticised him online. I thought I got off lightly when he merely suggested that I (and Pat from Pat's Fantasy Hotlist) should be shanked in prison.
However, a couple of weeks back (see above link) he posted a lengthy rant about how he'd been treated and falsely accused of things online (oddly, his own antics went unmentioned, like the shanking thing). Fair enough. Everyone has the right to defend themselves and when I was linked to the article today, I was hoping to see a coherent defence of Stanek's actions and an explanation for them. Unfortunately, what we got was the same old spiel of confused gibberish. Particularly interesting were the following claims (poor grammar and punctuation left intact):
The timeline here is important because in May 2002, the following appeared in David Langford’s Ansible: “Amazon Mystery. Authors of fantasies on sale at Amazon.com have noticed a rash of oddly similar customer reviews that rubbish their work and instead recommend, say, George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan, and Robert Stanek. The number of Big Name commendations varies, but not the plug for self-published author Robert Stanek. Who could possibly be posting these reviews (many since removed by Amazon) under a variety of names? It is a mystery, but Ansible is reminded of how Lionel Fanthorpe's pseudonymous sf would often mention those great classic masters of the genre, Verne, Wells and Fanthorpe.”It should be noted at this point that I did not have Internet access at home until October 2005, never met George R.R. Martin until the same month and was not mentioned (along with about thirty other people) in any of his books until 2011. Also, I would not claim to the title of "#1 Fan" of anything, due to no longer being nine years old. Much more to the point, rewinding to the very first post on his blog will reveal that I did not start it until late 2006. It would have been hard even for me to have mentioned Stanek on the blog four years before it existed. In addition, until today Stanek's name has not even been mentioned on this blog (as a cursory Google check confirms). My comments about Stanek were limited to a couple of mentions on a few forums over the years and that was it.
Note how they twist what they’ve done into something I’ve supposedly done to them--this is a constant tactic. I assume this post was written by David Langford friend and blogger, Adam Whitehead, as Whitehead then took to his blog to rant about how I was supposedly writing fake five-star reviews of my own books using sock puppets. As Whitehead is and was the self-professed #1 fan of George RR Martin (and is even credited in one of George’s books), all the sock puppet one-star reviews mentioning George RR Martin were suddenly starting to make sense as they were all likely written by Whitehead and his friends.
Around this time a new group got involved as well, including authors Patrick Rothfuss and David Louis Edelman. Rothfuss and Edelman trashed me on their blogs in 2007, trying to enlist their fans in trashing me and their fans did begin trashing me in a big way. Blogger Patrick St. Dennis of Pat’s Fantasy List, Rothfuss’ #1 fan and friend, set to trashing me in his blog as well. Others joined in and quite a few who were directly associated with fantasy publisher Tor.Another cursory Google check of Patrick Rothfuss's blog suggests that Rothfuss has also never mentioned Stanek in any of his blog posts (Stanek alleges Rothfuss also trashed him on Facebook, which again I can find no evidence of, but tracking down information on Facebook can be a lot trickier). David Louis Edelman did indeed post an article about him, and Pat has certainly not been shy about mocking him, but the dig at Tor Books seems a bit random.
I posted the following response at Stanek's blog (repeated here in case it is deleted from there):
Hello, Mr. Stanek. Normally I don't respond to such drivel (and I even ignored it when you suggested I should be knifed to death), but when someone starts talking lies about me online, I do feel the need to correct them. It's even more unwise to lie about things that are ridiculously easy to check.A response is awaited.
1. I didn't have a blog in 2002. I didn't even have the Internet until 2005. If I was reviewing your books I would use my name. Unlike yourself when you trash other authors using sock-puppets and fake Amazon accounts, I always use my own name on my reviews. This is because I have integrity.
2. The article was written by David Langford. That's why it appears on David Langford's website, which is the creation of David Langford. That might have been a clue to the fact it was written by David Langford.
3. I have never in seven years even mentioned your name on my blog (though do not be surprised if this changes in the near future). Please provide the URL of the article in which you are mentioned or withdraw this claim.
4. Your name has never appeared on Patrick Rothfuss's blog, according to a Google search. Please provide the URL of the article in which you are mentioned or withdraw this claim.
UPDATE: As anticipated, my comment to his post was removed, as he clearly is happier running away and hiding than standing up for himself. The comment has been reposted, and I continue to await a substantive response.