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 Grignr slipped his right hand to his thigh, concealing a small opaque object beneath the folds of the g-string wrapped about his waist. Brine wells swelled in Grignr's cold, jade squinting eyes, which grown accustomed to the gloom of the stygian pools of ebony engulfing him, were bedazzled and blinded by flickerering radiance cast forth by the second soldiers's resin torch.

Described as "the worst fantasy novella ever", The Eye Of Argon by Jim Theis, who was 16 when he wrote it, is the tale of Grignr, a foul-mouthed barbarian warrior who is trying to escape the dungeons of Evil Overlord Agaphim and rescue a young woman named Carthena from a pagan cult who want to sacrifice her to their idol - a statue with one eye called "The Eye of Argon" (a "scarlet emerald", complete with some interesting plumbing).

The story is well known for its abundant cliches, shoddy spelling, flat characters, wooden dialogue and overly colourful writing. Every woman is a "wench", eyes are "emerald orbs". Nothing is ever "said" - instead it is "queried" or "ejaculated" or "husked" or "stated whimsicoracally". There's an extended scene involving elderly priests groping Carthena, and a scene where Grignr has sex with (or possibly just hugs) a "half-naked harlot... with a lithe, opaque nose". One cult member randomly faints by an epileptic fit in battle, and another suffers a savage, multi-paragraph Groin Attack.

The most widely-known and -circulated copy of the story comes to an abrupt and unsatisfactory halt, and for many years it was believed that the ending was lost forever (or even, in some quarters, that the story was never completed). Recent years have seen the separate discoveries of two intact copies of the fanzine in which The Eye of Argon debuted, so it is now known how the tale ends. (With multiple exclamation marks, it turns out.)

At science fiction conventions, The Eye Of Argon is now a sort of parlor game. All participants sit in a circle with a hard copy of the story, and the first one starts reading aloud--pronouncing every word as it's misspelled, and including every adjective. When he or she finally bursts into laughter, the copy is passed to the next person. If a person manages to make it through more than a page, the copy is sometimes passed anyway, on the grounds that the reader must have special training as a news anchor.

A nicely-retyped transcription, not perfect but quite a bit better, has long been in circulation, with a transcriber's note apologising for its inability to reproduce the original's typesetting and illustrations. It is now also possible to view a facsimile copy of the original publication, in all its strangely-set and oddly-illustrated glory(?). This facsimile does include the lost ending.

As reading it raw may cause brain damage, you can settle for the MST'd version, or this Dramatic Reading of Chapter One on You Tube. For those whom are unable to read it sober, we have the Drinking Game over here.

Compare Atlanta Nights and My Immortal.

Tropes used in The Eye of Argon include:


 Agaphim: Take this uncouth heathen to the vault of misery, and be sure that his agonies are long and drawn out...

 "Cocking her right foot backwards, she leashed it desperately outwards with the strength of a demon possessed, lodging her sandled foot squarely between the shaman's testicles."

  Grignr: My people are not tarnished by petty luxuries and baubles. They remain fierce and unconquerable in their native climes.

 "Prepare to embrace your creators in the stygian haunts of hell, barbarian", gasped the first soldier.

 The vile stench of the Shaman's hot fetid breath over came the nauseated female with a deep soul searing sickness, causing her to wrench her head backwards and regurgitate a slimy, orangewhite stream of swelling gore over the richly woven purple robe of the enthused acolyte.

  "A flying foot caught the mug Grignr had taken hold of, sending its blood red contents sloshing over a flickering crescent; leashing tongues of bright orange flame to the foot trodden floor."

    • He also spends about six long sentences describing a guy falling over after being kicked in the crotch.
  • Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe - "sayeth the king" would be correct, except that it's the wrong tense.
    • Carthena starts out talking this way, and Grignr does too shortly thereafter, when up till that point he only talked in vulgarities.
  • You Keep Using That Word - Many instances: Gringr is constantly described as wearing a g-string, with folds; one character speaks "bustily", another's nose is both "lithe" and "opaque".
  • You Talk Too Much - Grignr doesn't say this to Carthena, but he thinks it--even though she doesn't seem to be any more talkative than he is.

Adam Cadre's Mystery Science Theater 3000 fan-MS Ting presentation has examples of:

  • Fate Worse Than Death - The straight lines from the original story is not left un-riffed. It happens so frequently it's lampshaded.

 Agaphim: The prince would surely have submitted them to the most ghastly of tortures--

Crow: Insert joke about having to read THE EYE OF ARGON here.

 Theis: The paunchy noble's sagging round face flushed suddenly pale,...

Crow: It flushed pale? Did it blanch red after that?

Theis: ... then pastily lit up to a lustrous cherry red radiance.

Crow: Hold me.

 Story: "[some bit of Purple Prose, such as 'crimson droplets of escaping life fluid']"

Crow: "You mean [the normal word, such as 'blood']?"

Mike: "Let's not jump to conclusions."

    • And anytime the word "slut" is used:

  Crow: "A slut? Where?"

 Story: "[Something about a mount]"

Mike: Vesuvius! [a different mountain each time]

    • And also...

 Story: "...[adjective] gore..."

Mike: "Albert's cousin from [American state]."

    • This message brought to you by the Booze Council.
      • Later replaced by the Death Council.
    • And also also...

 Story: Groped/groping...

Tom: --a 17-year-old Senate page.

      • There are also repeated references to Clarence Thomas.
    • And more also...

 Story: [Grignr displaying some character trait, e.g. logic, wisdom, deep psychological insight]

Mike: When I think of [character trait], I think of three names: [two noted names in the field of said trait], Grignr.

    • "You tell me, you're the writer!"
  • Tarot Troubles - Tom Servo is reading Crow's future with a pack of Tarot cards he found somewhere. Poor Crow gets nine Deaths and a Tor Giant.

Notes

  1. Which amounts to "the dark cloud of black black."
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