S&S: The Eye Of Argon – Worst Story Ever In This Genre

Imagine, you’re a 16 year old kid who loves Sword And Sorcery so much you write a short story and submit it to a local fanzine. The story gets published, and it gets public attention, but we’re talking about the wrong kind of attention: fantasy enthusiasts passing it around so they can laugh at it, and attendees at fantasy conventions mocking the story and play-acting it as comedy. That’s what happened to Jim Theis when he wrote The Eye Of Argon. The public reaction was so bad he vowed never to write again. TV Tropes calls it an epic fail. Others call it the worst fantasy store ever written. Yikes!

The story scanned from the fanzine, posted by Ansible.UK as a PDF.

A cleaner, transcribed version with extensive notes, produced by TAFF. (In PDF and other formats.)

My personal notes follow the vid. By the way, this is not the worst thing I’ve ever read. I have edited erotic fantasy stories on Literotica that I thought were a lot worse.


Descrip: “The Eye of Argon” by Jim Theis is known as the worst fantasy story ever. It is filled with spelling errors, confusing word choices and some terrible action sequences. Dramatic readings are popular at science fiction conventions and the story has been widely mocked. Does “The Eye of Argon” deserve to have the title of worst fantasy story ever? How did it get so well known? Who is the author, Jim Theis, and what became of him? Let’s find out!


I read it. I really feel for Jim Theis, for what he went through starting way back in 1970. I was so insecure about my writing at that young age that I only let a few people read my stuff, and I think only once or twice I dared to read my poetry in front of class or turn in writing as a class assignment. The entire class started laughing once, when I described a love affair where a swooning woman ‘melted’ in the arms of her lover. Yeah, they fucking laughed and I stood there and took it.

You’re laughing too, aren’t you? It’s okay. I get. It was a dumb, cartoony way to for me to get readers to visualize what I wanted to say. At the same time, it hurt. I was 15 or 16 at the time. After that, I only let one young woman read one of my rough draft novels, when I was 18. And then, I waited until I was 36 before I had the courage to show my writing to readers for critique, and until I was 40 before I finally e-published my first novella.

To be honest, I wasn’t a total lump as a young writer. My 6th grade teacher loved a journal I wrote where I pretended to be a Robinson Crusoe-type shipwreck survivor, in high school an English teacher said I had the potential to be the next Stephen King, and I moved one high school girl so much she cried after reading a different love poem with a tragic ending. Regardless, I was ultra-sensitive about others reading my writing, and I can totally empathize with what happened to Jim Theis.

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