The worst science fiction/fantasy story ever written?

July 17, 2006

It’s reputedly “The Eye of Argon” by Jim Theis:

Read the whole story here
(found on Reddit)

According to the entry on wikipedia (yes, believe it or not, wikipedia has an entry for this — this is near the top of my list of reasons to love wikipedia, just after the entry for Han Shot First), it’s about a barbarian hero, Grignr, who is travelling the land of Gorzom “in search of wenches and plunder.”

So far, so David Eddings. But just how bad is this? Here’s a passage from the story to help you make up your mind. At this point in the tale, Grignr has been thrown into a dungeon and is looking for a means of escape. As he’s examining his cell, he gets attacked by a giant rat which he proceeds to kill in gory detail (all original spelling mistakes and grammatical errors remain intact):

Flinging the broken body to the floor, Grignr shook his blood streaked hands and wiped them against his thigh until dry, then wiped the blood that had showered his face and from his eyes. Again sitting himself upon the jagged floor, he prepared to once more revamp his glum meditations. He told himself that as long as he still breathed the gust of life through his lungs, hope was not lost; he told himself this, but found it hard to comprehend in his gloomy surroundings. Yet he was still alive, his bulging sinews at their peak of marvel, his struggling mind floating in a miral of impressed excellence of thought. Plot after plot sifted through his mind in energetic contemplations.

Then it hit him. Minutes may have passed in silent thought or days, he could not tell, but he stumbled at last upon a plan that he considered as holding a slight margin of plausibility.

He might die in the attempt, but he knew he would not submit without a final bloody struggle. It was not a foolproof plan, yet it built up a store of renewed vortexed energy in his overwroughtsoul, though he might perish in the execution of the escape, he would still be escaping the life of infinite torture in store forhim. Either way he would still cheat the gloating prince of the succored revenge his sadistic mind craved so dearly.

Quite.

Apparently, some sci-fi conventions even hold competitive readings of The Eye of Argon; the reader who goes the longest without laughing wins… something incredibly geeky, most likely.

Now, I’ve read some pretty crap fiction in my time, but The Eye of Argon, I think, is in its own unique category of bad. The author is obviously literate (well, kind of) and it’s not a parody: this is a genuinely poor attempt at writing. It’s the epitome of earnest, adjective-drenched, mind-numbingly terrible fan fiction. And what’s even more depressing is that thousands of geeky, navel-gazing high school students up and down the country are probably writing their own versions of Eye of Argon as you read this blog… And posting them on myspace!

However, if I’m honest, the reason this story resonates with me is that I used to write exactly this kind of trash when I was 12 years old. Except that in my case it was in the style of Ian Livingstone/Steve Jackson Fighting Fantasy roleplaying books. You know what I’m talking about, right? Tolkien-lite fantasy with a “choose your own path through the story” roleplaying twist.

I’m talking about this kind of thing: “If you want to do battle with the fearsome Orc Guardian, turn to page 237; if you want to cast a fireball spell like a wimpy mage, turn to page 33; if you want to stare some more at your Fine Elven Broadsword, turn to page 41; if you want to roll some dice and pretend you’re playing a proper role-playing game like Dungeons and Dragons or something, turn to page 1337.”

Yep, these were good, uncomplicated times.

For me, reading through The Eye of Argon is like going back to the days when I would sneakily re-roll the dice for my character to try and get a higher strength attribute; when whether to turn to page 14 or 76 seemed like a life-altering decision. These kids with their myspace and their Final Fantasy and their Baldur’s Gate don’t know they’re born.

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3 Responses to “The worst science fiction/fantasy story ever written?”

  1. Kaneda Says:

    Those american RPG books that geeky high schoolers might have arent Final Fantasy. final Fantasy is something different. Still geeky, but not quite as geeky.

    The geeky thing is what i dont get about your post. The post seems to focus on “geeky high schoolers on myspace” as opposed to the actual topic: “Eye of Argon” and how much it sucks.

  2. Kaneda Says:

    My bad. i thought the link said “final fantasy” because the mention of it at the bottom of the post confused my feeble brain. It was not until i clicked on the link that i noticed it was something different, albeit, with a similar name.


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