Poking the Eye of Argon

The most recent Shallow & Pedantic Podcast was a two-parter on The Eye of Argon, famously the Worst Fantasy Story of All Time. We read the story, and we talked about it.

In the first part, we laughed long and loudly at the madness of the story, its logorrheac prose combined with its dearth of narrative information. In short, we did everything that everyone’s been doing with it for the last 50 years.

But then, having done a little digging on the history of Eye of Argon, we switched gears and spoke a few words in defense of its author, the late Jim Theis, and even of the story itself. What’s bad in it remains laughably bad, and that’s most of it, but not all.

Now, our discussion should give you a pretty good idea of what’s in The Eye of Argon, but if you really want to savor it’s madness for yourself, you have a few options:

First, you can purchase a Kindle Copy from Amazon. As I mention in the second part, I have no idea if Jim Theis’ heirs collect anything from these various versions, so I would grab a free edition instead (link goes to pdf).

However, there is another option. I allude in the podcast to the phenomenon of “MiSTing”, an early-internet activity in which the text of a bad story or USENet post would be mocked in literary form by a reader in the guise of characters from Mystery Science Theater 3000. I mentioned a few MiSTings I did myself, back in the day. I’ll post lnks to those another time.

But if you want to encounter The Eye of Argon the way I did, with someone ripping it to merry pieces so you don’t have to, then I recommend the 8-Part MiSTing:

It should be pointed out that this MiSTing relies on the incomplete version of The Eye of Argon, which is the version that was most passed-around over the decades. The Amazon and .pdf links above have the complete version.

I also feel obliged to point out that the story is becoming its own Mythos. I mentioned in the podcast that an author who had read Eye of Argon several times did his own edit/retelling of the story, known as Grignyr the Ecordian:

But that’s not all! A collection of fantasy authors and editors have collaborated to create new stories in the “mythos” (yes, that word appears in the book description), which includes the original story.

Jim Theis might be dead, but his creation lives on.

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