Have you ever read “The Eye of Argon“? If not, you should. Not because you will enjoy it, in the normal sense of the word, but because it is so exquisitely, incredibly BAD. First printed in 1970 in a science fiction fanzine, “The Eye of Argon” is the story of a barbarian hero named Grignr, running from trouble and toward the plunder and wenches he expects to find in the next town. Many adventures ensue, all involving more clichés, tortured grammar, and bad spelling than you would think possible. Consider the following:
Arriving after dusk in Gorzom,grignr descended down a dismal alley, reining his horse before a beaten tavern. The redhaired giant strode into the dimly lit hostelry reeking of foul odors, and cheap wine. The air was heavy with chocking fumes spewing from smolderingtorches encased within theden’s earthen packed walls. Tables were clustered with groups of drunken thieves, and cutthroats, tossing dice, or making love to willing prostitutes.
The rest of it is fully as bad. It is so bad, in fact, that it’s a popular SF convention activity to read it aloud competitively. (Whoever can resist laughing the longest wins.) It has also inspired a Mystery Science Theatre 3000-style commentary that is very popular on the internet.
In the SF world, it is a beloved classic. For that reason, it may seem strange that until recently almost no one knew if the author, Jim Theis, was a real person, or if the story was genuine or a sendup. Most people encountered it on the internet, printed from an internet source, or photocopied from a very poor original. None of these sources indicated where it came from. Even worse, until recently all readily-available copies were missing at least the last page of the story. Eager readers were left in unbearable suspense about what would happen to Grignr next!
But at last the suspense has been broken! The last page of “The Eye of Argon” has been found! In this month’s New York Review of Science Fiction, Lee Weinstein revealed the final passage that was finally located in the archives of the Jack Williamson Collection at Eastern New Mexico University. With no further ado, here it is:
With a sloshing plop the thing fell to the ground, evaporating in a thick scarlet cloud until it reatained its original size. It remained thus for a moment as the puckered maw took the shape of a protruding red eyeball, the pupil of which seemed to unravel before it the tale of creation. How a shapeless mass slithered from the quagmires of the stygmatic pool of time, only to degenerate into a leprosy of avaricious lust. In that fleeting moment the grim mystery of life was revealed before Grignr’s ensnared gaze.
The eyeballs glare turned to a sudden plea of mercy, a plea for the whole of humanity. Then the blob began to quiver with violent convulsions; the eyeball shattered into a thousand tiny fragments and evaporated in a curling wisp of scarlet mist. The very ground below the thing began to vibrate and swallow it up with a belch.
The thing was gone forever. All that remained was a dark red blotch upon the face of the earth, blotching things up. Shaking his head, his shaggy mane to clear the jumbled fragments of his mind, Grignr tossed the limp female over his shoulder. Mounting one of the disgruntled mares, and leading the other; the weary, scarred barbarian trooted slowly off into the horizon to become a tiny pinpoint in a filtered filed of swirling blue mists, leaving the Nobles, soldiers and peasants to replace the missing monarch. Long leave the king!!!
Ahhh. After all these years, what a sense of fulfillment.