(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 the deconstruction of an epic fantasy.
(9) It is a disruption of the Campbellian monomyth.
(10) It rejects story. It rejects the idea of character as fixed & causal. It rejects relatability. It rejects reader-identification. It rejects the argument that because the real is disordered, fiction’s duty is to provide order. It rejects the despair of ordering fictions. It rejects the immersive text on Brechtian grounds.
(11) Read “A Young Man’s Journey to Viriconium” last. Or see (14).
(12) Titles, epigraphs & chapter headings are often significant contributors to the text. If you’re reading something framed as The Floating Gods, you aren’t reading In Viriconium.
(13) The available editions are problematical in terms of content, organisation & packaging.
(14) There is a new, as yet unpublished story.
Discussions & further queries here.