So, I did a funny thing. Or funny to me anyway. I made a critical edition of Jim Theis’s The Eye of Argon.

The Eye of Argon (for those of you unfortunate enough never to have encountered it) is a story written by Jim Theis at the age of sixteen and first published in the fanzine, Osfan #10, in 1970. It became infamous as an example of sublimely awful writing, and it was widely read at science fiction conventions.

It’s a sword and sorcery tale of the Conan the Barbarian variety. It’s hero has rippling muscles and flowing hair. He rescues a maiden in fantastically impractical clothing. He fights nasty monsters and evil priests and tyrannical rulers. And he claims the mystical gem, the Eye of Argon. All good stuff.

And it seemed to me like the hilariously perfect subject for an experiment where I would take a piece of overwritten fiction and pretend that it was a historical text, a long lost document of an ancient civilization, several times translated. So I developed a whole critical conversation around it, complete with fictitious books, journals, universities, and even professors bickering over the petty details of Theis’s manuscript. I wrote an introduction, copious footnotes, frequent marginal corrections, and an annotated bibliography, all of it entirely imaginary.

If you also think that’s a funny thing, you can get your copy here –