There are two Stephen Kings.
Wait…no, I’m not talking about the “first” Stephen King, who wrote horror, and the “present” Stephen King, who spends his days fuming and ranting on Twitter against Republicans.
I actually take about two totally different Stephen Kings. There’s the Stephen (Edwin) King we all know – author of horror classics such as ‘The Stand’ and ‘It’ and ‘Misery’. Then there’s Stephen R. King, the not-so-great writer of infamous horror titles like “Infested” and “The Sickness” and “Unearthly.”
Truth be told, the whole Stephen R. King saga has been captivating me for some time now. Let me explain.
In 2014, when Amazon’s Kindle was proving popular with readers around the world, the “King of Horror” had pretty much his entire fictional library available for sale as e-books. Unsurprisingly, people started happily buying “Tommyknockers” and “Bag of Bones,” along with other titles like “Blood Rituals” and “Grave Decisions.”
When these Stephen King enthusiasts opened their electronic version of “Cujo,” they were thrilled. However, when they opened their electronic version of “Grave Decisions”, they almost threw up on their Kindle.
Yes, Stephen King fans have been duped.
It seems that new Stephen King fans, or those who were just not paying attention, bought any book that had Stephen King’s name on its cover, not realizing that the man from Maine had never wrote and published books called “Grave Decisions”. Blood Rituals” or “Descendants”. On the contrary, these last titles had been written by a completely different person using the name “Stephen King”.
You see, this unknown author had cleverly taken advantage of a flaw in Amazon’s search engine that allowed the horrifically written “Crossroads” and “Grave Decisions” to infiltrate Stephen King’s bestselling library, like “‘ Salem’s Lot” and “The Shining”. “When a reader, new to the world of Stephen King, started downloading titles, they were unknowingly buying King’s impostor books, such as ‘Beast Control’ and ‘Redstone’.
Unsurprisingly, reviews of these awful King titles poured in. They were negative and very, very angry. A few thought that Stephen King’s writing ability had really taken a dive since the last time they read him. Most of the others, however, smelled something rotten in Castle Rock.
“Downloaded ‘Infested’ onto my Kindle…I admit I didn’t really pay attention to it when I bought it,” wrote one reviewer, “and quickly realized it was a fake Stephen King. I will be more careful in the future.
Each of these impostor titles quickly achieved one-star or half-star ratings. Despite those ratings — and the nasty, angry reviews — carefree Stephen King fans continued to buy the imposter books on their Kindles without hesitation, like bugs hiding in sticky spider webs. and all the while, Stephen King’s fake bank account kept swelling… and swelling… and swelling.
For three years, fake King titles have seamlessly mixed with real King titles on Amazon. Finally, in 2017, the corporate giant got restless and kicked into motion like a massive sloth. They contacted this fake Stephen King author and asked him to stop using Stephen King’s name; they encouraged him to use a pseudonym instead.
The fake Stephen King refused. Why? Because the author told them he wasn’t using a fake name. His real name, clearly listed on his birth certificate, was Stephen King. It turns out he wasn’t breaking any laws by publishing his stories under his divine name.
A compromise was finally found. The man’s middle initial – “R” – would be added to the covers of all his available books. This way, readers could at least get a better idea of the books written by Stephen King (“Pet Semetary”) and the stories told by Stephen R. King (“Awaken”).
The compromise worked – kinda sort of. Despite the name change, there are still far too many Stephen King fans who still stupidly buy Stephen R. King books — and then complain about it.
One reviewer said: “Basically I was just relieved to find out that this badly written shit was NOT the work of THE Stephen King.”
Today we at least know Stephen R. King’s gender – he’s male, at least from the photo and short biography on the writer’s Amazon page.
“Stephen R. King,” the biography reads, “grew up in the Midwest. He enjoys writing short stories in many different genres such as thriller, sci-fi, action-adventure, horror, supernatural, fantasy and more. If you enjoy a good late night read, or want to spend time in another realm or universe, feel free to kick back and take many different journeys with several short stories to choose from.
Strangely (or maybe not strange at all), this “fake” Stephen King released “Unearthly” in 2018 and “The Darkness” in 2019 — and then nothing else after that. With the proverbial cat out of the bag, perhaps the steady cash flow that Stephen R. King had enjoyed for so long had suddenly dried up? Either way, the man hasn’t published a single novel, collection of stories or short stories on Amazon since 2019. It’s as if he’s disappeared.
Maybe Randall Flagg finally caught up with him?