Monday, February 18, 2008

The Eye of Argon: Plan 9 meets swords and sorcery

Did you ever watch something so bad that it's good? A movie that's so poorly plotted, with special effects so awful and dialogue so artificial, that it ceases to be annoying and crosses over into a fun investment of time? If you've ever seen Ed Wood's Plan 9 From Outer Space, you'll know what I'm talking about.

Well, fantasy fiction has its own equivalent of Plan 9: The Eye of Argon , a howlingly-bad swords-and-sorcery tale supposedly written in 1970 by a 16-year-old author named Jim Theis. I say supposedly because, although Theis' authorship is reportedly genuine, I have a hard time believing that a tale so deliciously awful is the result of any young writer's honest effort. To me, Argon smacks of satire, a well-done internet hoax by a fan or fans of both Robert E. Howard, from whom the tale draws obvious inspiration, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000.

But regardless of the truth of its origins, The Eye of Argon is a delight to read. Chock-full of misspellings and incorrect word choices, it contains passages so loaded with (unintentional?) humor that they can't be read with a straight face. According to Wikipedia, the story has been used as a party game at Science Fiction conventions, with readers challenged to recite passages out loud without laughing.

I wouldn't last more than 10 seconds trying to read The Eye of Argon out loud. Some of my favorite passages include:

The engrossed titan ignored the queries of the inquisitive female, pulling her towards him and crushing her sagging nipples to his yearning chest. Without struggle she gave in, winding her soft arms around the harshly bronzed hide of Grignr's corded shoulder blades, as his calloused hands caressed her firm protruding busts.

"You make love well wench," Admitted Grignr as he reached for the vessel of potent wine his charge had been quaffing. 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. "Remove yourself Sirrah, the wench belongs to me;" Blabbered a drunken soldier, too far consumed by the influences of his virile brew to take note of the superior size of his adversary.

...and this one...

"All that you hear is less than I hear! I heard footsteps coming towards us. Silence yourself that we may find out whom we are being brought into contact with. I doubt that any would have thought as yet of searching this passage for us. The advantage of surprize will be upon our side." Grignr warned.

...more goodness....

"What are you called by female?"
"Carthena, daughter of Minkardos, Duke of Barwego, whose lands border along the northwestern fringes of Gorzom. I was paid as homage to Agaphim upon his thirty-eighth year," husked the femme!
"And I am called a barbarian!" Grunted Grignr in a disgusted tone!
"Aye! The ways of our civilization are in many ways warped and distorted, but what is your calling," she queried, bustily?
"Grignr of Ecordia."

...and another...

"Your sirenity, resplendent in noble grandeur, we have brought this yokel before you (the soldier gestured toward Grignr) for the redress or your all knowing wisdon in judgement regarding his fate."
"Down on your knees, lout, and pay proper homage to your sovereign!" commanded the pudgy noble of Grignr.
"By the surly beard of Mrifk, Grignr kneels to no man!" scowled the massive barbarian.
"You dare to deal this blasphemous act to me! You are indeed brave stranger, yet your valor smacks of foolishness."
"I find you to be the only fool, sitting upon your pompous throne, enhancing the rolling flabs of your belly in the midst of your elaborate luxury and ..." The soldier standing at Grignr's side smote him heavily in the face with the flat of his sword, cutting short the harsh words and knocking his battered helmet to the masonry with an echo-ing clang.
The paunchy noble's sagging round face flushed suddenly pale, then pastily lit up to a lustrous cherry red radiance. His lips trembled with malicious rage, while emitting a muffled sibilant gibberish. His sagging flabs rolled like a tub of upset jelly, then compressed as he sucked in his gut in an attempt to conceal his softness.

I encourage you to follow the link above and read more of The Eye of Argon. It's easily the worst (and among the most entertaining) pieces of fantasy fiction I've ever read.

No comments: