You guys! Thank you so much! I received enough donations to get a new laptop within three days, and I had to actually pause my PayPal because I didn’t want to take too much money off you all. Anyway, I got a new laptop and I’m back in the game.
I have Things To Do tonight, so I’m going to go ahead and post the next chapter in the @silentwakes saga! This is one of my personal favourite chapters, so enjoy.
Silentwakes Strikes Back
Back in 2014, after @effiemeral and @nessiesgirl called out @silentwakes for using a fake account to pretend to get a big donation of money, Rob spent a few days licking his wounds. He didn’t blog or comment anywhere using either the @silentwakes or @lillyletters accounts. When he broke his silence, it was in spectacular style. He posted this blog post in the early hours of the morning.
I was reading @effiemeral’s latest fic, Belladonna, today (which, until recently, was one of my favourites. Stay tuned to find out why that is most definitely no longer the case). I was looking for some of my favourite lines to quote in a fic rec post, when I noticed something familiar about some of the phrasing in the fight scene against the coven.
I’ve just finished reading this old sci-fi book I found in the basement. I think it belonged to my dad in the sixties. It’s called War of the Underworld. It’s not a very good book – at times it’s overtly homophobic, and the rest of the time it’s incredibly sexist and racist – but there are some great action scenes. @effiemeral’s latest fic reminded me of one of the scenes. It was only a similar turn of phrase, but it was enough to set off warning bells.
I went and got my copy of the book and flicked to the scene. I couldn’t believe my eyes. @effiemeral’s writing is, word for word, absolutely identical to one of the scenes in War of the Underworld.
Here’s a comparison (this is just one of a few I found, scattered through @effiemeral’s fic). The bolded text is found in both extracts.
Fang stepped out into the open clearing, breathing deeply of the cool, damp air. There was a crispness to the iced-over grass as he stepped on it, cracking beneath his heels.
“This is neutral territory!” he shouted, breath misted in the air. “Call those witches off!”
Fang waited, aware of how unprotected he was. But he knew Lyra was out there, and he knew her sense of honour would never let her shoot on an unarmed enemy.
Now, here’s the scene in the original novel:
Colonel Knox stepped out into the open clearing, breathing deeply of the cool, damp air. There was a crispness to the iced-over grass as he stepped upon it, cracking beneath the heels of his polished boots. He adjusted the jacket of his uniform and raised the flag in the air.
“This is neutral territory!” he shouted, breath misted in the air. “Hold fire!”
Knox waited, aware of how unprotected he was. But he knew General Masters was out there, and he knew the General’s sense of honour would never let him shoot on an unarmed enemy.
Correct me if I’m wrong, because I’m not entirely sure of the copyright laws surrounding fanfiction – a medium which already uses someone else’s intellectual property – but isn’t this something that could be considered plagiarism?
I to-ed and fro-ed about bringing this up, because I really like @effiemeral, and I don’t want to call her out or embarrass her. But I really am curious about where the line is on this kind of thing.
What are your thoughts on copying other people’s writing like this? Should this be allowed? I’d love to start a discussion about it. It interests me a lot, and hopefully it’ll interest some of you too.
I particularly enjoy the way that @silentwakes played this off as a purely intellectual question, targeting no one in particular. It gave him a delicious kind of innocent naivety when, to his apparent surprise, the fandom went absolutely ape-shit.
@Poppypippin This is repugnant. I feel a little bit sick.
@abigailnox You’re totally right, this is 100% plagiarism, @silentwakes. It’s incredibly impressive of you for noticing. As an English professor, I would consider this a theft of the highest level. @effiemeral should be ashamed of herself.
@Silentwakes ack, really?! I really wasn’t sure, so I’m glad to have some official academic backing. Though I don’t think you should flame effie for this. I wasn’t going after her personally. I just wanted to start an intellectual discussion.
@Kellyrambles I’m the mod at @lochandnessfic and I’ve just taken down all @effiemeral’s fics until further notice, so they can be examined for any further signs of plagiarism. Thank you for bringing this to our attention. We do not tolerate any stolen work, and this will be dealt with using the utmost severity.
@silentwakes oh no! I really didn’t mean for this to go this far! What are you going to do to her?!
@Kellyrambles I’m discussing it with the other mods right now, but it looks very likely that she’s going to be banned from the community and our sister-sites, @lochandnessfans and @jaydenlyra.
@silentwakes I feel so bad. She’s basically going to be ostracised from the whole community if you do that.
@kellyrambles That’s something we’ve aware of, and we’re working hard to make sure that we treat her fairly, but something like this can’t be tolerated in our community. At the very least, we’re not going to publish any of her fics again.
@silentwakes woes. I feel so bad!
@kellyrambles Don’t be, you did a really good thing. *squishes*
Within hours of the post going up, @effiemeral was soundly hung, drawn and quartered. She put up a token protest, making this post:
I have NOT plagiarised anything, ever in my life, and certainly not in my fics. The things @silentwakes has claimed about me are lies. Dabbling in someone else’s universe is one thing, but copying and pasting someone else’s writing word-for-word is atrocious. It’s the worst possible kind of stealing, and I would never do it. I’ve never even heard of War of the Underworld, much less read it!
I severely doubt that this passage is real, and if it is, this similarity is a complete accident. I could never do such a lazy, immoral and pointless thing. I’m perfectly capable of writing my own fight scenes!
This isn’t even a very complicated scene to write. It would take more time to go through my bookshelves looking for a book with a scene that matches, and then painstakingly type it up, than it would to actually write it from scratch.
This whole thing is a malicious lie made up by @silentwakes to distract everyone from the accusations I made last week about his sockpuppet, @lillyletters. He doesn’t want me sharing details of his fake accounts, so he’s trying to ruin my credibility.
I don’t care about my fic, or my reputation, but I don’t want you all to believe the endless lies of this awful man. Do not listen to him! He’s going to keep going after people who call him out until this whole fandom is wrapped around his pinky finger.
@fififiddlesticks He says that you made up the sockpuppet claim because he asked you privately to take down the plagiarised fic, and you refused. This is your own fault. He knows @lillyletters in meatspace and that’s why they were both in LA, you just jumped to conclusions. Stop making up lies and accept that you’ve been caught.
Anonymous Lyden shippers are all the same! You’re a bunch of dirtbags!
Anonymous Never trust anyone who has such bad judgement that they think those two belong together. *shudders* Can they not see the signs? Fayden is endgame.
Anonymous Lyra/Jayden shippers are such lowlifes. It’s always them causing the drama. They mock us slash shippers, then something like this comes out and suddenly they disappear into the woodwork
Anonymous don’t blame this on us! Just because we’ve had a few bad apples doesn’t mean that your gross ship is any better.
The fact that @effiemeral was a Jayden/Lyra shipper was, in fact, a major boon to @silentwakes. He had chosen a good person to target, at just the right time. This accusation happened in the wake of several other fandom dramas involving Jayden/Lyra shippers.
Only a month earlier, one fan had been found to be lying about having cancer. Her posts often claimed that she was blogging from a hospital bed, and sometimes her ‘sister’ would post on her behalf, saying that she was very sick, and as they didn’t think she’d have long to live, nice comments would be appreciated. The deception was discovered when a group of her LiveJournal friends banded together to send a bunch of flowers to her in hospital, only for the hospital to return them, saying that no such person was in their care.
Three months before that, a Jayden/Lyra fan artist was caught running photos of models through the ‘sketch’ filter on Photoshop and trying to pass them off as pencil drawings.
The general feeling in the Loch & Ness fandom at the time was that Jayden/Lyra shippers were “uptight, full-of-themselves sociopathic liars”, as one anonymous commenter so poetically put it in the comments of @effiemeral’s post. When the accusations against @effiemeral came out, the overwhelming opinion was that you couldn’t expect anything better of someone who shipped Jayden/Lyra.
Hardly anyone queried the plagiarism claims themselves, which is a shame, because the truth was right there in front of them. @silentwakes had chosen his target well: the book War of the Underworld has been out of print since 1961, and would have been completely unknown to everyone reading his post.
If someone had wanted to check the quoted passages, they would have needed to track down a copy, spend money on buying it, and wait weeks for it to be delivered. @silentwakes was banking on the fact that none of them would bother to do this, and that gamble paid off. Everyone took him at his word, and not a single person checked the book.
I bought a copy on Abebooks, and I can confidently say that the passages he quotes do not appear anywhere. I went over it with a fine-toothed comb. The whole accusation is a detailed, perfectly executed lie.
Within days, @effiemeral was barred from all areas of fandom, and @silentwakes became the hero of the moment, rising to even greater, previously unimagined heights of fandom fame. Effie deleted her account three days after the post went up. If she ever came back to fandom, it was under a different username, and she never spoke of her old identity again.
It was the perfect attack. Her accusations against @silentwakes were completely forgotten.
I find it very interesting that Rob used his training in law to attack @effiemeral. He said in blog posts that he’d been shadowing a copyright law case. I wonder if the case had any connection to intellectual property? That would explain where he got the idea for this plan from.
Once she was out of the way, @silentwakes only had @nessiesgirl left to deal with. His plan there was quite clever too. In fact, it almost worked. But I’ll leave that until next time.
My personal feelings about silentwakes and Rob Hennings
A lot of people have commented to ask how I can still love and support Rob, even knowing what he did on LiveJournal. It’s undeniable that he thrived on attention, and seemed to savour the thrill of lying and destroying people’s reputations.
Honestly, the reason I don’t hold that against him is because I see a lot of myself in him. Look at this essay I’m writing – I’m self-aware enough to know that this is not a healthy way to interact with fandom, or deal with having crushes on actors. I should not really be tracking down addresses. Objectively, I know I shouldn’t. But I love it.
It might be obsessive, but it gives me so much pleasure and enjoyment, and honestly? The fact that Rob and Nathan might read this only makes it better. I can totally understand how Rob felt, in fandom. He wanted to have fun, whatever the cost. And, by God, he did.
Rob’s AO3 Bookmarks
In the course of writing this chapter, I thought to check if anyone had archived @silentwakes’ fics on Archive of Our Own (AO3), the fanfiction hosting site used by writers today. I found something even better – @silentwakes still has an AO3 account. Rob hasn’t uploaded any of his fics, but he’s still using it to browse the archive and bookmark his favourite fics. Here’s one he read and bookmarked as recently as last month:
If I’m Your World, You’re My Sun
Jayden puts an ad on Craigslist for someone to keep him company during a snowstorm. Fang responds. Snuggling ensues.
Jayden stared at the ad. He’d never posted anything like this before, but he was cold and lonely and Lyra was on vacation somewhere with shitty signal and a hot boyfriend. He was feeling sorry for himself, and Grindr wasn’t providing any of the good stuff.
Searching for someone to cuddle up with away from the weather, to keep me entertained while the power is out. I have a fully stocked fridge and enough snacks to ride out the storm.
It wasn’t too bad, was it? It was worth a shot, anyway. He didn’t have to reply, if the only people who answered were creeps.
He attached a picture of him from a night out a few weeks ago, covered in glitter and dancing under coloured lights in a club. He drew in a deep breath and posted it.
It only took a few minutes for the replies to come in. He grimaced, deleting most of them based on just the subject lines.
Then, after about ten minutes, there was one with a picture attached that wasn’t a nude. It was a hot, older man, with thick stubble and hooded eyes. He stared into the camera like he was looking straight at Jayden.
He quickly hit reply.
Are you serious? You are totally welcome to come over, but you seem out of my league, if that’s really you.
I’m interested. I’ll bring cold beer and dominoes. What’s your address?
There was another picture attached, of the same guy holding up a print-out of Jayden’s Craiglist post.
“Holy shit,” Jayden said out loud, and sent the guy his address. Then promptly started cleaning his apartment at top speed.
He was pulling a slightly-cleaner shirt over his head when the bell rang.
“Hi!” Jayden said, pulling open the door, panting slightly. “Wow. Hi.”
The guy was even hotter in person. He looked Jayden up and down, and then raised his eyebrows. “Can I come in?”
Jayden scrubbed the hair at the back of his neck. “Yeah, sure. Wait, you aren’t a serial killer, are you? Cause you probably shouldn’t come in, if you are. Just, er, thought I should check.”
The guy grinned. “Would I tell you if I was?”
“Well – no, I guess not.”
“Then you’ll just have to risk it.”
Jayden gave the guy an intentional look up and down. “Worth it.”
I find this really interesting, because there’s a very clear difference between the book version of Jayden and Fang from early LiveJournal fandom, and the TV version of Jayden and Fang that Rob and Nathan play.
When you compare this story to that fic of Rob’s, written about five years ago, it’s incredibly obvious how much of themselves Rob and Nathan have put into the characters, and how this has changed the writing in fandom. Rob’s Jayden is cheeky and chatty and full of non-stop banter. The book Jayden is a lot quieter, more worried, and less confident than the book Fang, with a darker streak of bloodthirsty-ness. If that character had a different name, you might not connect him with the Jayden of the show at all.
I wonder if Rob pictures Nathan when he reads these fics? Or if he’s been in fandom for so long that he has his own version of Fang, in his head?