(1) Read as one book, not as three novels followed by a collection of afterthoughts.
(2) Freely intersperse the short stories between the novels.
(3) The novels can be read in any order, but order of publication makes a kind of sense if you have expectations to do with linear time & causality.
(4) Start with “Viriconium Knights” if you need an f/sf rationale for what’s going on in the rest of the book.
(5) Other rationales are available.
(6) Random dipping is just as effective. All beginnings are endings. Every reiteration is the (not an) original iteration.
(7) It is a metafictional critique of “epic” fantasy.
(8) It is a deconstruction of “epic” fantasy.
(9) It is a conscious disruption of the American ideological/narcissistic overmyth “Hero with a Thousand Faces”.
(10) It hates story. It hates the idea of character as fixed & causal. It hates relatability. It hates reader-identification. It hates the idea that because the real is disordered, fiction’s duty is to provide order; it hates the anodyne mouth-feel & simultaneous shrill desperation of ordering fictions. It hates immersive texts because immersion in a text defuses political & social dissatisfaction.
(11) Read “A Young Man’s Journey to Viriconium” last. Or see (14).
(12) Titles, epigraphs & chapter headings are often significant parts of the text. If you’re reading something framed as The Floating Gods, you aren’t reading Viriconium.
(13) Every available edition is problematical in terms of content, organisation & packaging.
(14) There is a new, as yet unpublished story.
Discussions & further queries here.