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  1. #1
    Anthony Ravenscroft
    Guest

    "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    There's such a thing as publishing too soon, but as well there's writing too soon.

    In 1970, a 15-year-old science fiction fan named Jim Theis wrote up a story (intended to be a novel) called "The Eye of Argon." It's a sort of Conan-esque pastiche, & pretty much what you'd expect.

    He showed it around to people, who were so delighted that Theis was moved to run off multiple copies & pass them around freely.

    In 2007, someone was so moved by this acclaim that it was self-pubbed through Wildside Books, all of 76 pages.

    Actually, the reason it was so popular is because it was the center of a game: you have to read it aloud until you choke with laughter. Whoever makes it furthest wins.

    Try it yourself:

    <http://www.ansible.co.uk/misc/eyeargon.html>



  2. #2
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    I've known about if for about twenty years. A friend of mine was in that game once, at a con. When it was his turn, he took one glance at the page and passed it on. He knew, you see, that he'd never get past the elliptical circle of torches. The Eye, by the way, is a many fawcetted scarlet emerald.

    One of the rules, BTW, is that you must read it exactly as written. That means, you must try to pronounce the frequent typos as written, not as the "author" meant.

  3. #3
    L C
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    Not sure I'm following. A 15-yr old wrote a story -which looks typical for a 15 yr old- showed it to some (adults?) who praised it, he made copies, and then someone pubbed it under the kid's name and now people, including you, laugh at it?

    Yes, that's just SO funny.

    I skimmed it -doesn't look much different from other self-pubbed stuff.

  4. #4
    Finnley Wren
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    The guy went to his grave being mocked his whole life by a community he loved and -- apparently -- desperately wanted to be a part of.

    Nice.

  5. #5
    Jay Milton
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    Side splittingly funny.

  6. #6
    L C
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    Finnley -the irony is that the ones who laugh at it probably don't write much better stuff themselves. Folks who can write are too busy doing that to laugh at others' stuff, yk?

  7. #7
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    To me, the real tragedy here is that the story itself isn't bad. It was written before word processors, and nobody told the boy about editing, correcting spelling errors or having somebody help him create a clean copy before showing it around. And, of course, it's clear that he was using a thesaurus instead of a dictionary. (I'm not certain, but I think he later admitted it.) I think it's something we all need to read, at least once, because it's a good reminder of just how bad the first draft of a (potentially) well-written story can be.

    I'll also admit that when I first ran across it, I laughed at Mr. Thiel. Now, however, knowing how young and inexperienced he was, I laugh at the story, not him. Fair is fair, and it's clear, now, that he was just doing he best he could, and trying to sound "grown up."

  8. #8
    Don Daffron
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    Recently, on the net, I read the first few pages of a story set in Nam in the seventies and a character (a soldier) was talking as if the VC were still active and never mentioned the NVA. In reality, the VC had been finished as an effective fighting force many years before that. Did I laugh? You bet! Also, the story gave the impression the war was still raging. By then, America had given up because of politics at home. Soldiers were still stationed in-country, but were there to “Vietnamize” the war (hand the mess over to the indigenous personnel and get the hell out) only.

    This is different from what you’re thread is about in that the writing itself was okay. It was the lack of research that made the story laughable.

  9. #9
    Finnley Wren
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    Couldn't agree more, LC. And with you too, Joe.

  10. #10
    Joe Zeff
    Guest

    Re: "Eye of Argon": an object lesson

    BTW, Don, one way you can tell the difference between a 'Nam vet and somebody the same age who wasn't "over there:" nobody who was there ever pronounces "'Nam" as though it rhymed with "ham." Only the protesters, the draft dodgers and the cowardly sheep chanting, "Hell no, we won't go!" ever did that. If you want to pronounce it correctly, the A should rhyme with the A in Brahms.

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