28 September 2008

Bad prose – The Eye of Argon

The The Eye of Argon is a novella chronicling the adventures of the barbarian Gringr. Written in 1970 by Jim Theis the Eye of Argon is considered the very worst piece of Science Fiction/Fantasy prose ever written.

Theis was 16 when he wrote the story and it was first published in OSFAN (the journal of the Ozark Science Fiction Society) #7. He remained upset that a piece of juvenilia became an object of derision amongst the Sci-Fi community and he never tried to improve upon his very shaky start. He died in 2002. Reading the story with a straight face is a popular challenge at conventions.

Science Fiction is a genre that is full of examples of abysmal writing (and even worse films) but the Eye of Argon really is atrocious. Perhaps it is a little unfair to mock a piece of juvenilia but then again it was published, albeit in an obscure fanzine.

Here is the first part of the Eye of Argon... Enjoy!


By Jim Theis

The weather beaten trail wound ahead into the dust racked

climes of the baren land which dominates large portions of the

Norgolian empire. Age worn hoof prints smothered by the sifting

sands of time shone dully against the dust splattered crust of

earth. The tireless sun cast its parching rays of incandescense

from overhead, half way through its daily revolution. Small

rodents scampered about, occupying themselves in the daily

accomplishments of their dismal lives. Dust sprayed over three

heaving mounts in blinding clouds, while they bore the burdonsome

cargoes of their struggling overseers.

"Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of

hell, barbarian", gasped the first soldier.

"Only after you have kissed the fleeting stead of death,

wretch!" returned Grignr.

A sweeping blade of flashing steel riveted from the massive

barbarians hide enameled shield as his rippling right arm thrust

forth, sending a steel shod blade to the hilt into the soldiers

vital organs. The disemboweled mercenary crumpled from his

saddle and sank to the clouded sward, sprinkling the parched dust

with crimson droplets of escaping life fluid.

The enthused barbarian swilveled about, his shock of fiery

red hair tossing robustly in the humid air currents as he faced

the attack of the defeated soldier's fellow in arms.

"Damn you, barbarian" Shrieked the soldier as he observed

his comrade in death.

A gleaming scimitar smote a heavy blow against the

renegade's spiked helmet, bringing a heavy cloud over the

Ecordian's misting brain. Shaking off the effects of the

pounding blow to his head, Grignr brought down his scarlet

streaked edge against the soldier's crudely forged hauberk,

clanging harmlessly to the left side of his opponent. The

soldier's stead whinnied as he directed the horse back from the

driving blade of the barbarian. Grignr leashed his mount forward

as the hoarsely piercing battle cry of his wilderness bred race

resounded from his grinding lungs. A twirling blade bounced

harmlessly from the mighty thief's buckler as his rolling right

arm cleft upward, sending a foot of blinding steel ripping

through the Simarian's exposed gullet. A gasping gurgle from the

soldier's writhing mouth as he tumbled to the golden sand at his

feet, and wormed agonizingly in his death bed.

Grignr's emerald green orbs glared lustfully at the

wallowing soldier struggling before his chestnut swirled mount.

His scowling voice reverberated over the dying form in a tone of

mocking mirth. "You city bred dogs should learn not to

antagonize your better." Reining his weary mount ahead, grignr

resumed his journey to the Noregolian city of Gorzam, hoping to

discover wine, women, and adventure to boil the wild blood

coarsing through his savage veins.

The trek to Gorzom was forced upon Grignr when the soldiers

of Crin were leashed upon him by a faithless concubine he had

wooed. His scandalous activities throughout the Simarian city

had unleashed throngs of havoc and uproar among it's refined

patricians, leading them to tack a heavy reward over his head.

He had barely managed to escape through the back entrance of the

inn he had been guzzling in, as a squad of soldiers tounced upon

him. After spilling a spout of blood from the leader of the

mercenaries as he dismembered one of the officer's arms, he

retreated to his mount to make his way towards Gorzom, rumoured

to contain hoards of plunder, and many young wenches for any man

who has the backbone to wrest them away.

You can find the Eye of Argon in its full glory here


CherryPie said...

Rather stilted!

jams o donnell said...

Haha Cherie rather an understatement!

Crushed said...

Ok, it's not the best writing ever...

Overloaded with two many fantasy names to take in in too short a time.

Nevertheless, I'm tempted to read the lot...
Just because it's my favourite genre.

Bad as it is, I think I'd prob rather read it that Jane Austen any day...

Anonymous said...

Was this written by an M&S TV advert copywriter?

"This is not just a trail; it's a weather-beaten trail.
These are not just hoof prints; they are age-worn hoof prints.
This is not just blood; these are crimson droplets of escaping life fluid."

jams o donnell said...

I'm pretty partial to Sci Fi too Crushed but this is pretty awful stuff. L Ron Hubbard looks great by comparison!

Haha Skuds, Good one!