the m john harrison blog

Month: February, 2022


The city of Viriconium drifts around the internet like a ghost site, abandoned, glitched and malfunctioning, composed of failed reviewerly attempts to place it back in the genre it began to undo in 1966; or as imitations in which it’s “healed”, ie corrected for the fantasy market. In Japan, meanwhile, a version generated by the selection of one novel and five of the short stories was recently published in real life: essentially a revision, a brave try at resource extraction, the curation of a canon from the chaos of the wilfully anti-canonical. Obviously I enjoy the accidental ironies of these rewrites, aborted coups and desperate 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. Certainly they’re in the spirit of cities.

[Originally published May 31 2020. In fact, if you’re interested in how Viriconium works, it’s worth reading the dialogue in the comments below that entry, especially my exchanges with “Andrei”. A Viriconium search will bring in further reading.]



–not of memory but of pure disconnected visual imagery. In fact they are flash-throughs, I understand now, not flashes of something static. Something is passing through and sometimes I can slow it down, or it slows down of its own volition, allowing me to examine it a bit more–or at least catch a glimpse of some aspect I haven’t previously noticed. That dream train of early childhood, with the coloured dragon pouring from its chimney: why is the memory of it always followed almost immediately by an image of the board and wooden pegs of a game of “Chinese Chequers”? Well, it’s the colours–of the board, the packaging, the pegs. It’s the colour-relations between the dream and the game that are the memory. I am in a struggle with memory’s means of communication, like an early radar operator. What’s signal? What’s noise? What’s neither, only some artefact of the process itself? When I find a metaphor like this I am much happier.

I will be compiling an earlier version of the author, who was suppressed for fifty years by London, writing, and the writing industry. His lostness, his elusiveness, his fragmentariness, his willed lack of agency, his tendency to live off to the side of events, will occupy this book the way he occupied his life. I hesitate to use the word haunt. I also intend to contact his darker sibling. This creature knows the score! They’re at home in every text! This book will be their book, a book of personal metaphysics or surreal phenomenology. It will be what, between the two of them, they arranged my life to be: a memoir without history. There will be no continuity and no social or professional revelations.