Pathetic. . .


Say howdy to Robert Stanek, the genius who photoshopped himself into a picture with bestselling YA fantasy author Brian Jacques but forgot to include his legs in the pic. This master storyteller of the genre is supposedly huge in literary powerhouse countries such as Vietnam, Chad, Burkina Faso, and Suriname. Other than this resounding commercial success, Stanek's biggest claim to faim was the fact that he got caught posting glowing reviews of his self-published works using countless alternate identities on Amazon, and using those same fake accounts to get negative reviews of his books removed from the site. As David Louis Edelman pointed out, this sleazebucket is known for his tireless deceptive acts of self-promotion.

A pillar of wisdom, Robert Stanek also threatened legal action by forwarding a fake lawsuit to David Langford using a hotmail account. As a Law Grad, I can assure you that the best universities teach us that hotmail accounts are the way to go if you want your practice to be taken seriously. You can read the whole story here.

Anyway, thanks to Adam (Werthead) for bringing this new episode in the Robert Stanek pathetic saga to my attention. Last week, Patrick Rothfuss made a comment on Facebook about the fact that The Name of the Wind had been getting a rash of one-star reviews on amazon.com lately. Then things heated up a bit on the forums with the "Rothfuss is a fraud" thread.

As Adam pointed out:

But what was odd was that all of these one-star reviews were written one after another in a very similar tone by newly-created profiles and all seemed to be making the same, highly questionable, claims that the book was 'objectively bad' and that all of the 500+ positive reviews on Amazon had been written by Pat himself, his friends or family. They ignored the fact that the book has been an international bestseller, is published in multiple languages by reputable publishers, and just continued making questionable claims about the author's moral character. It was very weird. They then tried to get the Rothfuss' Wikipedia page eliminated and also made a very half-hearted effort to level similar complaints against Abercrombie, although I get the impression this was solely to make it look like they weren't just picking on Rothfuss.

All of this smelled like a rat, most notably when one of the reviewers started saying that Pat Rothfuss should go to Iraq to get the 'moral character' that only comes from serving in the armed forces. This was VERY familiar. Then I remembered that the legendary self-published lunatic Robert Stanek kept making a huge fuss about how serving in the armed forces had been an important character-building exercise.

Then today one of the other commentators following the situation on Amazon pointed out that almost all of these suspect reviewers had started 'tagging' Robert Stanek's books (you could see this on their profiles). By the time I checked them out, only three had them left, the rest having apparently removed them when they realised they were rumbled.

Hmm, don't know just how character-building an exercise joining the army turns out to be. But in Stanek's case, it sure didn't do much about his limited intellect, his common sense, and his writing abilities. Though I get the feeling that this failure might be the product of Robert Stanek not being the strongest of lightbulbs instead of being attributed to any shortcoming in the US military training.

Any doubt that lingered sort of got swept away when one of the alternate reviewers began to write negative reviews of Jim C. Hines and David Louis Edelman books. Both authors have written blog entries on Robert Stanek and his self-promotion in the past. You can read the articles here and here.

This whole thing would be a bit disturbing if it wasn't so pathetic. There is no concrete evidence, but everything hints at the fact that Robert Stanek did not particularly enjoy Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind. Fair enough. He's not the only reader who feels that Rothfuss' debut doesn't live up to the hype. But why go through this widespread mug-slinging campaign against an author who's been nothing but a class act ever since his debut was published?

I can understand that a self-published author can feel frustration and resentment when he realizes that his skills are a world away from Rothfuss' own and that he can never, even in his wildest dreams, aspire to ever become this good, or even half as good. Such resentment can understandably engender anger and fury. If that's the case, why not take up yoga or tai chi? With all the money a bestselling author makes, I'm sure Stanek can afford it. And if not, well masturbating more often might help him release some of the pent-up stress. The suppression of such impulses and emotions can't be good, yet this guy obviously needs a more adequate outlet for such feelings of rage than writing false reviews under false names on Amazon.

This is definitely one of the weirdest stories we've encountered in SFF recently. Whoever is responsible for this should acquire a bit of maturity and move on. Patrick Rothfuss' The Name of the Wind surpassed Terry Goodkind's Wizard's First Rule and George R. R. Martin's A Game of Thrones to become the bestselling fantasy debut of all time in hardcover. The books has been translated in I don't know how many languages and sells well everywhere. Rothfuss won a Quill Award, so I don't think anyone can doubt that he has earned his success. To say that the positive reviews and the units sold all came from the author, his family, and his friends is ludicrous.

The fact that someone did not enjoy The Name of the Wind doesn't make Patrick Rothfuss a fraud. Like it or not, this guy is now one of the biggest names in the genre. Be that as it may, if it's any consolation, Stanek is still big in Vietnam. Can Rothfuss claim the same???

Oh man. . .

41 commentaires:

Anonymous said...

Wow. If this guy hadn't gone quite so ballistic, he might not have been found out. Should I not trust Harriet Klausner's reviews either?

Dave said...

Wow ... Ive heard about this guy before and he sounds like a real ass. Iduno what hes got against pat but that is taking it way too far.

Martin said...

You insensitive bastard, he obviously lost his legs in Iraq!

Allan said...

You forget he is also MASSIVE with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Society of Bulgaria

Anonymous said...

"Like it or not, this guy is now one of the biggest names in the genre."

:(((

Anonymous said...

about the sales:

There was a promise if I remember correctly: one book / year. The publisher deceived the readers.

Marie said...

All he has done is make himself not just an object of ridicule but also as an object of pity. And yeah, I kind of pity him. This guy needs a reality check quick before something more drastic happens.

Kat @ Fantasy Literature said...

Interesting. We had some of this trash talk about Rothfuss (by somebody who called himself "Joe A." -- ha ha) as comments on our Rothfuss reviews as well.

"Pathetic" is a good word.

Anonymous said...

Is this true? (The Name of the Wind forum)

As at the time of writing, 378 of the 470 glowing reviews are by people who have only reviewed this book or 1-2 others, and likely don't exist. That's over 75% of the reviews. The remaining 25% seems to be from people who either genuinely liked or disliked it. That's a pretty small sample of honest people.

CupofDice said...

I read Keeper Martin and Queen something years ago, even knowing that Stanek was a self promoting ego maniac. Basically I found some reviews that complained about that, but still said it was not that bad of a read, plus I was looking for something with elves >_>. Anyway the two books weren't that bad. Better than Goodkind's first book (no evil smiles and chuckles), and he did npt necessarily steal like Eragon (from the little memory I have of the books). This was back in 2003/4 or so. Which brings up the question on why Stanek is continuing this when he hasn't released the third book in years? Makes no sense. Oh wait, it does. Fantasy lit is growing, and he is still trying to capitalize.

Oh, and why do you assume he actually served in the armed forces Pat? He is probably lying about that too. He is probably jealous of Pat's overall success. He probably thought he would be the new author with Pat's sales and critical success.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fishsticks_(South_Park)

Anonymous said...

Kat I checked it out. The gall of this guy is really unbelievable. I think pathetic is too mild to describe Stanek, insane is more like it.

King Rat said...

I live across the street from a paranoid schizophrenic. While amusing, it has made me realize the futility of trying to talk (or write) the mentally unbalanced into health. Stanek is always going to be doing weird stuff, because, while he appears to be pretty intelligent, he's also obviously mentally ill. Comedy gold. Neverending.

PeterWilliam said...

Ugly. Transparently ugly. Stanek ought to do veterans, servicemen and servicewomen a favor and shut his piehole re: military service. They deserve a far better advocate.

Dream Girlzzz said...

Wow. Just wow. Can't believe that someone would go to such lengths.

Dave said...

Let's not judge the photo too hastily. Perhaps St@nek acquired a warder's color-shifting cloak, and was wearing it as a sarong.

Dave said...

Another thought- St@nek should team up with Nickolaus Pacione. If you've never heard of him, Google him. Another unbelievable story of a self-pubbed "author" out of control. Way too much to tell, but it's a tale that's engrossing in the same way as a car wreck.

SQT said...

Jealousy is the only motive I can think of. Stanek is stupid. He has pretty much guaranteed that no reputable publishing house will touch him-- and no reviewers will accept his books. Nice job!

Kat @ Fantasy Literature said...

"a warder's color-shifting cloak, and was wearing it as a sarong."

Hahaha!!
The strange comments on our Rothfuss page started showing up 2 weeks before that Amazon thread started. Interestingly, nobody made a comment on the Stanek page at that time. Today I've taken Stanek's books off our site, with an explanation and a link to this post.

David Louis Edelman said...

As one of the authors whom Stanek has supposedly maligned... I should admit that I haven't seen enough negative activity on my Amazon reviews to conclude that he's targeting me. Could be, but I certainly wouldn't rule out just some ordinary readers giving my book 1-star reviews.

thornofcamorr said...

You know it seems a little bit beyond madness that Stanek would actually do all of this himself... maybe it's a massive troll campaign by 4chan or something to pick some tiny author and try to make him huge, like with the Tay Zonaday and Rick Astley stuff.

Patrick said...

But David, how could anyone not like you!?!

Both INFOQUAKE and MULTIREAL were the shit! Can't wait for the final volume, by the way. . .:-)

David Louis Edelman said...

Patrick, you shameless flatterer.

Marc said...

I write World War 2 history (I'm Marc Rikmenspoel, as can easily be checked), and I'm familiar with the similar case of a guy who calls himself Paul Harker. He self published a couple of books that proved to be fiction, despite Harker's claims that they were authentic memoirs that he ediited.

When Harker was exposed as a fraud, he started posting negative reviews of his critics all over Amazon, under assumed single names (usually women's names, such as "Susan). Antonio Munoz was particularly targeted, and many 1-star reviews of his works are still on the site, despite the rarity of women with no last name reading detailed studies of the World War 2 era Croatian Army and the like.

I'm sure there's other examples of this nonsense going on, but at least these idiots are being exposed to the world by the two edged sword of the internet.

The Amazing Buttcrack said...

Better beware because Stanek will be coming after you next, you know. That anthology you're working on, don't be surprised if it gets a slew of one-star reviews from the Legless Wonder's multiple identities!

Or maybe he'll listen to your advice and jerk off more often to relieve all that stress and frustration that afflict him. Being a bestselling writer in Vietnam can't always be a walk in the park, you know!:p

Anonymous said...

In the amazon thread "patrik Rothfuss is a fraud" it has been mentioned that he may not be the warhero which he claims to be. I was one of the first on that thread to realise that it was indeed Stanek making false accusations. We people should try to alert Amazon personelt of his activities..(and make them do something about it. I am btw L. Yue on that thread.

Myshkin said...

Amazon knows full well what's going on with Stanek. If you bug them about it they'll just suspend your account.

Cecrow said...

I've seen that photo months ago; Jacques' publicist avowed that Stanek was not in the photo (and showed the original, sans Stanek). Prior to that, I began reading one of Stanek's books and I think it's the first one I've ever quit on the grounds of bad writing. What's frightening is the sheer volume of false identities, reviews of himself and others and Stanek fan sites he's been able to generate. If only he'd put as much effort into improving his writing, he might actually be good by now.

Anonymous said...

Here is an amusing chapter by chapter summary of one of Robert Stanek's books:
http://conjugalfelicity.wikispaces.com/robertstanek

Roland said...

"You forget he is also MASSIVE with the Science Fiction & Fantasy Society of Bulgaria"

As a Bulgarian, I want to object to this! Stanek has connections to ONE person here who himself had in the past some connections to publishers. That's the sole reason he had one of his abominations published in Bulgaria, but given the ridiculous sales, it will forever remain the only one.

The person I mentioned is himself quite close to mentally ill and is in no way representing ANY part of Bulgarian SFF community, thank you very much!

Anonymous said...

I second the above comment about Bulgarian SFF community.

Some private booksellers in Bulgaria were quite uncomfortable with having to sell Stanek's, um... novel... alongside Steven Erikson and George Martin. As far as I'm aware, it sold less than 50 copies altogether.

To be honest, it did earn a good couple of laughs at a public reading and dramatization on New Year's Eve two years ago.

Especially when we got to the three pages Stanek needed to describe the heroine falling off a horse into a creek...

Anyway, Stanek is indeed massive with a certain person in Bulgarian SFF society, who unfortunately and inexplicably used to have some clout with one of our big publishing houses.
I suppose the situation has developed in a similar way elsewhere - gullible publishers taken in by Stanek cronies (how can such a thing exist at all?!), or by Stanek himself. Either that, or these other countries are not very big on literacy...

As for the Amazon reviews, I can't understand why he still thinks cheap tricks such as this one work... But Stanek is definitely shaping up to become a byword for fantasy readers, the way Uwe Boll already is among film fans.

Anonymous said...

Some other posters have been exploring the connection between Robert Stanek (the self published hack) and William R. Stanek (the published microsoft tech writer). They are the same person. This only makes this sordid, gonzo tale even more strange ...

Andrew said...

While looking at the rave reviews that Stanek has written for himself for his audio download version of "Stormjammers: The Extraordinary Story of Electronic Warfare Operations in the Gulf War", I came across a line that gives insight into Stanek's psychological state:

"It is people like Robert Stanek that allow the rest of us to complain about standing in line at Starbucks. If it were not for him and the brave souls he served with, we would all have much more painful experiences to give us pause. This book should be required reading for everyone who considers him or herself an American!"

The full review and the 5 other reviews written by Stanek's alias "Lance" can be viewed here:
http://www.audible.com/adbl/site/customerReview/customerReviews.jsp?userId=7911781&nickName=Lance&BV_UseBVCookie=Yes

No surprise that there are three 5-star reviews for Stanek's fantasy books, a review that trashes a Rick Riordan book, and a review of a Anderson Cooper book which states:

"I purchased Anderson Cooper's "Dispatches from the Edge" and Robert Stanek's "Stormjammers, The Story of Electronic Warfare in the Gulf War" the same day. While Cooper's book is fast-paced and edgy in a CNN Headline News kind of way, Stanek's is the book I liked best and the one I finished first."

Anonymous said...

Kind of surprised we haven't heard from Stanek yet. What with this story having been picked up by quite a few blogs and message boards...

Alice

Anonymous said...

William R. (Robert ) Stanek hasn't been here becasue he is worried that the blog creator will trace his IP address to Olympia WA, which is where he lives.

This has happened in the past - an example can be seen in this blog:

http://pl.atyp.us/wordpress/?p=508

note the 2nd and 3rd comments

Andrew said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Actually, Stanek hasn't visited yet because he is busy gathering a crack team of 'lawyers-with-hotmail-accounts'. Expect some oddly worded legal threats soon.

http://www.infinitematrix.net/columns/langford/langford189.html

Dream Girlzzz said...

There is a Robert Stanek group on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#/group.php?gid=61063018682

Poor guy, he was only able to attract one member other than himself!!! Bestselling author my ass!!!

Sturmia said...

I am really, genuinely surprised that Rothfuss has surpassed Martin when it comes to bestselling.
Personally, and no I am not Stanek, I am one of those people that really didn't think much of Name of the Wind. No doubt that Patrick is very talented but he comes no where close to writers like Martin, Bakker, or Erikson. Also the first person narrative lacked considerably in depth. Had he stayed with the third person narrative like some parts of the book it might have been much the better for it.

Cheers

Marc

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John Beattie said...

As a quick note, Stanek was in the Air Force, not the Army. I'm in his old squadron. Not going to say too much about it, except that Stormjammers is generally not considered very accurate by the cadre here.

Anonymous said...

Served in Iraq? It wouldn't surprise me if that was made up. He's probably never served in tennis.