E: The Eye of Argon (And Why It’s Awesome)

For anyone who has been around the fantasy genre for quite some time, you may know the name of the short story “The Eye of Argon.” This was a short story written by (at the time) a young Jim Theis. You may not know this name, but it’s one that lived in infamy at fantasy and sci-fi conventions all over after word got out about this secret gem of a story. People would play a game where you would read it aloud and see how long someone could go without bursting out laughing.

Unfortunately, Mr. Theis didn’t share the same amount of humor about his piece of writing being ridiculed. Suffice to say, in the age of the internet, I’d suspect if people did the same “writer shaming” nowadays it might be frowned upon. However, I don’t see it as shaming. I see it as immortalizing. Not all of us can be classic writers. Some of us may have to, in fact, mediocre or not be very good at all. Is this a bad thing? Well, I don’t know. There’s also Bulwer-Lytton who was known for one of the most famous lines in history “It was a dark and stormy night.” His writing inspired the Bulwer-Lytton contest which has had plenty of intentionally (and probably unintentionally) bad first lines of fake novels.

So is it better to be known for being cliche or bad or to live in obscurity? I’m not sure what the answer would be.

 Of course most don’t want to be labeled in the “bad” camp, but the situation with Theis is that instead of embracing his new found infamy and getting in on the joke, he faded from the collective conscience. Sadly, he died never really being happy with how one of his early stories was ridiculed so much.

If you’re never read “The Eye of Argon,” you can find it here: The Eye of Argon (warning may contain adult language and situations).

Also if you’re interested in learning more about the Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest, check here:  http://www.bulwer-lytton.com/

To honor Jim Theis, I’ve included my own picture of what the main character Grignr may look like. I’ve embraced sometimes indulging in a bit of bad fantasy action myself. Enjoy!

For Jim Theis, Grignr and his Rat Friend.