"Scarlet Emeralds" and "Faucets" of a Teenaged Mind

As he mentions in his Ogre Battle 64 review, Lightwing23 and I decided a few months ago to challenge each other to review various things, with an explicit agreement that we would not suggest things solely for the purpose of watching each other rage with the righteous anger of a nerd-Achilles. I reviewed Dynasty Warriors: Strikeforce (which I actually liked) and Gamer Grub (which I’m rather iffy about) at his request, while he’s written about Ogre Battle 64 and Disgaea at mine. I know he loves both games, which means he better get ready; I’ma try to make him rage.

He decided to dub his contributions “Filling Goldenpigsy’s Trough,” which I can only hope was not intentionally, uh... homoerotic. I considered naming my own articles on this theme with something about “light wings” and “absorbency,” but that’s really too juvenile, even by the standards at this blog (please don’t be surprised by the fact that I have standards). And I really couldn’t come up with anything that made sense anyways.

Lightwing wanted me to write a review of Brotherhood of the Wolf (Christophe Gans, 2001), one of the movies I probably forced him to watch when we were in school together. When I finally got around to looking for my DVD, I couldn’t find it. It’s not on my shelves and I’m wondering if I lent it to somebody who never bothered giving it back. So in its stead, I will review Jim Theis’s abominable The Eye of Argon, which I actually convinced Lightwing23 to read (he gave me his copy of the Wildside Press edition). Sorry, dude.

The Eye of Argon is 7,000 word novelette originally published (as a joke) by OSFAN, an Ozark area science fiction/fantasy fanzine, in 1970. The author, Jim Theis, wrote it at the ripe age of sixteen, which is all too obvious when reading it. Through a somewhat convoluted series of events, a Xerox of the story made its way among genre authors, editors, and aficionados, who read it out loud at conventions. The goal, as I understand it, is to read as much as one can with a straight face. It sounds mean, but according to Lee Weinstein’s introduction to the print edition, Mr. Theis actually attended the readings. Good sport, that guy.

The Eye of Argon is basically Conan fanfic, only somehow more generic than the progenitor of the swords-and-sorcery genre. Grignr, the protagonist, is a barbarian adventurer chafing against the decadence of society. Sound familiar? The story contains all the requisite elements and sequences: A scene in a tavern in which “The barbarian seated himself upon a stool at the wenches side, exposing his body, naked save for a loin cloth brandishing a long steel broad sword ...” (one wonders how the his loincloth brandished anything, unless one opts for the obvious Freudian interpretation), a scene in which the barbarian is captured and imprisoned, a vicious cult, and a Lovecraftian monster which Grignr battles.

I’m guessing from the jail scene that Theis was very fond of Robert E. Howard’s “The Scarlet Citadel,” a personal favorite of mine as well, because this part of The Eye of Argon reads as though it were written with a copy of Howard’s story right beside it. I think it’s also fair to assume that poor Jim wrote at least a few passages one-handed, if the following indicates anything (Wildside Press kept the grammatical/editing errors intact -- I quote as is):
“’Thou hast need to occupy your time, barbarian’, questioned the female?
‘Only if something worth offering is within my reach.’ Stated Grignr,as his hands crept to embrace the tempting female, who welcomed them with open willingness.
‘From where do you come, barbarian, and by what are you called?’ Gasped the complying wench, as Grignr smothered her lips with the blazing touch of his flaming mouth.
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 bronzedhide of Grignr corded shoulder blades, as his calloused hands caressed her firm protruding busts.
‘You make love well wench,’ Admitted Grignr...”
One can also assume from this passage that Jim Theis had not yet experienced the joy of touching a woman (though he clearly fantasized about it).

Detailing every laughable passage in The Eye of Argon would actually reproduce the story in its entirety, especially the latter chapters -- and half chapters, this being the only published work I’ve ever encountered that denominated chapters 3 1/2 and 7 1/2 -- in which the prose becomes so dense with nonsensical adjectives and laborious description that I found it impossible to understand unless read out loud (preferably in a funny voice). It is best, for sake of brevity, to merely isolate some of the funniest examples of language butchery.

“He dickered with the notion...”

“Glaring directly down towards her was the stoney, cycloptic face of the bloated diety. Gaping from its single obling socket was scintillating, many fauceted scarlet emerald ...”

"’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!”

"’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.’"

“The slut should have picked his qurray more carefully.”

And so on. Twain wrote of Fenimoore Cooper that he broke 114 of the 115 major literary rules, as well as several minor ones. Among the lesser, Cooper failed “Use the right word, not its second cousin.” As seen from the above passages, Theis uses the wrong word’s second cousin incorrectly.

When Pilgrim, Lightwing23 (and Mrs. Lighwing23), RockManXZ24 and I used to hang out together, we had a great time of reading Tara Gilesbie’s infamous Harry Potter fanfic, “My Immortal,” out loud, usually headed up by yours truly. The Eye of Argon is actually funnier, if only because its author is so completely earnest, rather than a possible (though amazingly thorough) internet prank. It might be a horrendous assault on the English language brimming with teenage hormones and wish fulfillment and a blatant pastiche of narrative devices and characterization from the old guard, but The Eye of Argon at least flows from beginning to middle to end -- one mark out of 115. I guess that puts Theis over Gilesbie and on the same level as Cooper.


  1. Oh my God, you found My Immortal. I shall allow you to continue being my friend. I also rather like it that you refer to my wife as "Mrs. Lightwing23".

    Oh how I love The Eye of Argon. Sad about Brotherhood of the Wolf, though in fact, every time you guys watched it in high school, I was never there. I just heard you talk about it so much that I know who Mark Dacascos is. Good post, though it never occurred to me that "Filling GoldenPigsy's Trough" could be taken dirtily. I guess if anyone would notice that, it'd be you.

  2. Of course I would notice it. That's my keen literary intellect at work. I am a man of letters, after all.

    How in the world did you manage to not see BotW? That's very nearly shocking, but not as much as the e-mail I'm about to send you.