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Sure, I'm into Carverquest. I admit that. I mean I keep out of the wank circles and I don't really post on comms much. I've just been in fandom for fucking ever, so everyone knows me and knows my Journal. Nick's Diner, they call it. All the greasy, bad-for-you Carverquest content you never knew you wanted until it's served with a steaming hot cup of sarcasm. People tell me stuff. It's awesome.

But it's not like the Carverquest books had the sanest fandom to begin with. You had your wanks, your sockpuppets, your cosplayers who got at one another's throats over who looked more like Dux Carver. And all the hardcore wank over underage kiddies from the books having sex, who will think of the children? Seriously, the Harry Potter fandom looked at us and thought, Jesus, at least I'm not a Carverquest fan. The furries loved us 'cause of the werewolves, which was great and all 'cause who doesn't love a furry, deep down? Werewolves fucking left and right, I don't care. But it did bring a lot of wank. Fandom_wank, stupid_free, Carversues, we had them all.

So you can imagine we'd all had bets on whether old DLE (sorry, Damon Lars Eldrich, author) would survive long enough to finish the tenth and final Carver book, and the Who fans and Trekkers were standing by to comfort us with the fact that their fandom has had like a jillion different writers.

But DLE managed to claw himself out of the grave long enough to turn in the manuscript, and the eighth movie had just come out too and so we were all really charged up–you just don't get sexier than the on-screen tension between Carver and the Werewolf King, and of course DLE was putting all that subtext in there, and the director even left in the part where the twins dismantled the unicorn, which I thought for sure was going to be way too bloody to show -- and now here we were with the tenth and final book coming out the very next week!

So four days before the book is supposed to hit the shelves like a royalties-rich rocket, the email shows up in my inbox. It's from my pal Andrea2331, and there's an attachment: a series of photographs of every page in the new book. Every page.

I did what any pirate of the high seas would do. I posted that fucker, a big old zip file on my journal.

There was enough wank over whether anyone should read the book.Then, when some of us of course downloaded it and read it, you have to believe there was wank over the ending, in which everyone died. I'm not talking main characters, I'm talking everyone. DLE I guess thought people would try to keep the books going after he died because he ended the world. HE ENDED THE WORLD, am I getting the point across? Carver, the Werewolf King, the underage sex children, every character we dreamed about and wrote dirty stories about and masturbated to. The end. Apocalypse last Tuesday. Earth no more.So this could have caused a wankstorm like you wouldn't believe, but I guess we all dodged a bullet in a weird way. Here's why: as soon as I posted it, someone posted a comment, subject like O RLY?, with a different file attached.

Which was photos. Of the book. Every page.

Except it wasn't the same book. It was different. And nobody knew which was real.

Imagine two novels, each alike in dignity, in fairest fandom where we lay our wank...

LiveJournal went nuclear. People were screaming about spoilers but they were drowned out by the atomic winter of debate over which was real. Everyone got spoiled. You couldn't avoid it. I know people who walked away from LiveJournal for the next four days, and it was good they did because just as it reached critical mass. LiveJournal? Crashed.

It crashed hard. Hardware failure. Six Apart dropped a collective brick but it was going to take days to get back online. It was still down when people were getting ready for the midnight release parties, putting on their leathers and that silk thing Anna wore in the sixth book before she got bumped off. It was still down at midnight.

At five AM -- and I'm getting that time from Wikipedia since I was asleep, thanks -- LiveJournal came back up, and slowly the posts began to trickle in. In the downtime, people had been busy investigating–you don't want to know what they did, crazy shit with Google street views, phoning up relatives in publishers' mail rooms, one guy trying to stalk and seduce DLE's estranged granddaughter on Facebook by sending her photos of himself dressed as one of her grandfather's sexiest werewolf characters, which is probably the worst costume you could wear for a thing like that. And everything pointed to the Apocalypse being the real book.

A collective howl the likes of which I have never heard arose in fandom's heart and burst forth with the fury of ten thousand suns, I am not even shitting you. Mass chants of denial, LJ comms with titles like it_never_happened and 10thbooksux began to show up and oh, it was a delicious bloodbath.

You might ask what I was doing during all this? I was doing what I always do, which was keeping my head down lest the helicopter blades of fandom's wrath chop it off. I was posting about things like my boss being a dick and how to make macaroni and cheese from scratch and what to do when you really really really need to hear some Scissor Sisters right that minute and don't have any on your hard drive.

So LiveJournal is going bonkers, reviews are going up, and at 2:24 pm on the day of the book's release, DLE finally rolls over and departs for that big publishing house in the sky. I don't know if the books were all that kept him going or if pure hatred from every reader killed him telepathically. They say it was a heart attack and the dude was eighty years old, so maybe that's really what happened.

They didn't even pretend to give him a moment of silence. The memorials started going up, the heartfelt letters to the dead author, the cat macros reading ILU DLE, the terrible poetry. Fanfic tributes weren't far behind. I counted at least forty where Dux ushers good old DLE into the afterlife before I gave up and metaphorically puked.

This is all still barely the day after the book came out, now. At this point Andrea2331 and another BNF called Dcrv_writer posted simultaneously on their journals. Andrea was a friend, we both wrote Dux/King slash, but I didn't run in the same circles as Dcrv_writer; DC, as she was known, wrote a lot of fluffy gen and one big epic romance where Anna was resurrected and, as far as I know, swanned around in silk a whole bunch. But despite these fundamental fucking differences, Andrea and DC agreed on one thing: the books were a fake. Not just one of them, both of them. And both had been written by the same person: a sociology student at UCLA, named Cyndi. Cyndi. Can you beat this shit? Someone found her MySpace page: her one and only hobby was ROXXING OUT. You gotta admit it's a weird hobby for a bona fide genius with a lot of goddamn time on her hands.

DLE had never finished the manuscript, after all. Cyndi had hacked his email address and established a relationship with his publisher while he was shuffling from his soft chair to his breakfast table every day, barely conscious.

You may have read on the news what happened next. It turned out (and okay, I'm a little to blame for this) that the faked copies had a virus attached which allowed some teenage hacker in Japan codenamed Tamaki to steal the identity of everyone who wanted to read DLE's final legacy to the world. Cyndi and Tamaki had been working together, though it was unclear who was using who. I got out okay, because my virus checker caught it just as it kicked into gear, but something like five thousand people got dinged by this guy. When the police caught up with him he was hip-deep in Wiis, iPhones, and candy bars.

And you know what happened next. He was Japanese. Rich, meaty racewank flowed like a river.

So there we stood, a torn and bleeding fandom, the survivors tallying up the bodies of those who had deleted, flounced, or just wanked themselves out. We were a ragtag bunch, crushed by DLE's apocalypse and death, and some of us were still picking off the survivors in the vulture-beaks of our LJ posts, but for the most part we'd gone to our corners to lick our wounds and plot our AU fanfics. DLE was dead. The fandom was broken, scattered. And what did I feel? I hate to admit it. I felt a weird kind of relief.

And then the Christian Right stepped up in the form of Donny Benson, superconservative leader of the National Bible Truths Foundation. He'd battled with us before, but we thought Donny was too Christian to kick us while we were down. We were wrong.

You can find the clip on YouTube of Donny's half-hour sermon on what we, the Carver fans, had brought upon ourselves. Our sins were legion, among them Satan-worshipping, spellcasting, indecent dress, child pornography, unnatural acts with animals, and sodomy, and so we had only ourselves to blame. It was the equivalent of a national broadcast of someone pissing on DLE's swiftly-decaying corpse.

My one consolation is that Donny got caught a few weeks later in a hotel room with a ball gag, blindfold, electrical-stimulation kit, and teenage boy, as is pretty inevitable with the whole Christ fandom. But I watched the video and saw the wank start to appear and I just couldn't even bring myself to say anything. What was there to say? The church had come down on us. The whole fucking thing was going to start over again, a fresh legion of disaffected teens figuring out how to disable the parental controls on their web browser and uploading badly-lit profile photos of themselves to LiveJournal, typing WEREWOLF KING into the search field, hunting for like minds like freshly-risen zombies hunt brains, swelling our ranks with new and always more indignant flesh.I was seriously contemplating getting out of fandom when someone walked by my open window with a radio.

That was all it took.

I knew the song and I'm not ashamed to admit I liked it, so I pulled it up on iTunes and went for my webcam. About an hour later YouTube finally got their shit together and I posted to my journal.

Now, I knew when I posted that I was going to be the next Numa Numa kid, because I'm goofy to look at and I'm singing my heart and soul out, but fandom understands. Boy, did fandom understand.

A long long time ago, I can still remember how the music used to make me smile
And I knew that if I had the chance, I could make those people dance,
And maybe they'd be happy for a while

I'm totally tone-deaf, by the way. As you know, if you've seen the video. But once we got out of the intro and into the chorus I belted that fucker like Mick Jagger.

We started singing, bye bye Miss American Pie
Drove my Chevy to the levee but the levee was dry
And good old boys were drinkin' whisky and rye
Singin' this'll be the day that I die
This'll be the day that I die

Only a hell of a lot louder than that looks, and a lot more tone-deaf. I don't think you can overestimate what a dork I am.

But when I posted it, this weird ripple went out. I'm not saying I brought peace and enlightenment to fandom or anything, but I started getting these comments that were just links to YouTube and sendspace and megaupload and myspace music pages. Hundreds of comments.

And there we were all in one place
A generation lost in space
With no time left to start again

Everyone was singing. They covered the Madonna version, they sang with their own terrible accompaniment, they put the song to doujinshi art of the characters, they did this freaky a-capella shit I can't even comprehend, but they sang. And every single one of them belted it like it was going out of style. For just one moment, everyone was singing.

Then, of course, more wank. It got farked and featured on somethingawful and fandom_wank got hold of it and laughed their asses off, which is actually kind of awesome. Most of them are good people, I've learned. CNN did a story where it was mentioned. My fifteen minutes of fame, and I wasted it on "American Pie".

Still, it could have been worse. I got to hear a lot of great versions of the song, and people seemed to perk up after that, at least around my neck of the woods.

So, the world ended. But we're still here, aren't we? The Diner is, anyway. And hey, you guys, I've heard about this new series of books–they look really cool. I'm going to start reading them tomorrow and we'll see what happens, all right?

The Jester sang for the King and Queen
In a coat he borrowed from James Dean
and a voice that came from you and me

SAM STARBUCK is a novelist, playwright, and stealth philosopher operating out of Chicago, Illinois. He is the head and sole employee of Extribulum Press, whose mission is to explore the possibilities of publishing in the digital age.

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