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A note on the Norgolian Empire

April 21, 2014

I have to admit something. The name of the Norgolian Empire, the home of the characters of Cannon Fodder, isn’t original by me. I lifted it from “The Eye of Argon,” a remarkable short story by Jim Theis.

Now in the public domain, the short story was first published in 1970 in OSFAN, a fanzine. It’s … well, it’s more or less Conan the Barbarian fanfic, but that doesn’t do it justice. I first ran into the story at a party game at Science Fiction and Fantasy club back in college. We’d printed out copies of the story and handed them out to the participants. The object of the game was to read an entire page of the story out loud, pronouncing all the spelling errors, and keep a straight face. I’m pretty sure nobody won that night.

You have to see this story to believe it.

I’ve read godawful writing before, but “The Eye of Argon” manages to transcend godawfulness and become a kind of work of art. I wanted to celebrate this story by throwing the name of the Norgolian Empire into Cannon Fodder. Theis’s short story is about the Empire’s outer reaches, so who knows what might be going on at the capitol? Hence the setting for Cannon Fodder. I like to think that at the time of Alec’s kraken problems, Grignr is still out there somewhere, hacking away at other barbarians.

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