The city of Viriconium drifts around the internet like a ghost site, abandoned, glitched and malfunctioning, composed of failed attempts to turn it into one thing; to place it back in the genre it began to undo in 1966; or as imitations designed to repurpose it as the founding platform of a version of itself corrected for the fantasy market. In Japan, meanwhile, a version generated by the selection of one novel and five of the short stories is about to be published in real life.
Obviously I enjoy the accidental ironies of these revisions, attempted coups and counter revolutions: to a degree they’re in the spirit of the thing– which was conceived of from the start as impossible to bring into focus, shattered and drifting about in its own timeline; certainly they’re in the spirit of cities.
I was recently offered the opportunity to join in, via a de luxe hardback edition of the entire sequence. If that happens–and I should emphasise that it’s a big “if” at this early stage–I’ll probably make a new author-approved order, based on the Fantasy Masterworks edition (Gollancz, UK, 2000), in which the short stories were woven between the novels. I’ll write a preface to explain why I prefer it ordered like that, as opposed to the normalising, dull & above all inaccurate presentation of it as a trilogy and some related short stories; why it should be read as single volume (but not necessarily in a prescribed order); and probably why it was such a personal nightmare to find a place in that order for the final “final” story, “Jack O’ Mercy’s”. Possibly I’ll add some older material, and some wilfully non-canonical material…
I feel relieved that I won’t have to do the same with the Light trilogy, which was written & published in the order in which it needs to be read to make a single, solid unit, and which has already been published in one volume in Germany. Time someone caught up and did that in English.