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B Evans
Posted on Wednesday, July 28, 2004 - 03:01 am:   

Hi M John. Delighted to see Bantam republishing Viriconium next year.

I've heard this might be preparation for a new Viriconium novel. Can you comment on that? Do you get much pressure from publishers to revisit that world?

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MJH
Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 04:11 am:   

>>I've heard this might be preparation for a new Viriconium novel. Can you comment on that? Do you get much pressure from publishers to revisit that world?

Well, publishing always wants more of the same, it’s true. But Viriconium is complete. It’s difficult to think why you’d want to add to it, or modify it as a statement.

After The Pastel City, I refused quite a few invitations to do the second book. As soon as I gave in and wrote it, I stopped getting so many invitations. From that I learned two things. (a) At that time my only use to the UK side of the f/sf industry was as a potential Moorcock clone. And (b) unless they are really rather special, originating editors will always hate your new book--until your next book, when they will ask you why you couldn’t write something more like the last one.

I could write just one more Viriconium novel, I’m sure; and I’d probably contemplate it if I was offered enough money: but I doubt it would be set in the Viriconium people “know”, or written in the way they have become comfortable with. It takes the industry a generation to catch you up; by then you’ve moved on. Alfred Bester was encouraged to make a comeback in the late 60s, early 70s. Everyone (including me) hated the result because it wasn’t The Stars My Destination; effectively, the audience denied him the right to develop.
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MarcL
Posted on Thursday, July 29, 2004 - 11:17 am:   

Let's not generalize. It wasn't "the audience" that denied Bester the chance to develop.

It was ME.
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MJH
Posted on Monday, August 02, 2004 - 09:05 am:   

These days I'm all for giving a departure the benefit of the doubt.
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Jerem Lassen
Posted on Tuesday, March 15, 2005 - 03:36 pm:   

Neil Gaiman to do the introduction for the forthcoming (octomber?!) US Omnibus edition?

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0553383159/qid=1110929438/sr=1-1/r ef=sr_1_1/103-6490940-0407055?v=glance&s=books


cool.
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brian
Posted on Tuesday, April 05, 2005 - 01:10 pm:   

Will the content be that of the UK edition that us in the states have been wanting for so long. I was going to order from amazon uk. Do I need to?
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 02:25 am:   

Hi Brian. No need at all. The content will be the same, although Bantam Spectra have opted to break it back into volumes and present them in order of original publication.

The UK edition intersperses the short stories between the novels in a random order, which fits the rationale a little closer. The idea, for me, is to avoid both textual and publishing chronology. The only fixed point should be the short story "A Young Man's Journey", which you should always read first or last. A clue to my attitude to time in the sequence can be gained from "Viriconium Knights", which pretty much says it all; and the author note to the first US edition of A Storm of Wings, which rather over-eggs that particular pudding.
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brian
Posted on Wednesday, April 06, 2005 - 07:38 am:   

Thats great. Thanks for the fast response. I love your work and have been attempting to secure all of your work for some time now. The Viriconium & Anima titles will be welcome additions. I may just go ahead and buy the UK edition simply because I like the idea of having the stories interspersed. But I'll buy the US edition also so you can get some sales over here.
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MarcL
Posted on Saturday, September 10, 2005 - 09:26 pm:   

Less than a month to go for this book's release in the US? I can finally stop haunting the used bookstores for the individual volumes, which never turn up anyway.
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 09:58 am:   

Well, it's out now, introduction by yer man Neil, and an excellent cover. Love the cogwheels & clockwork & all. Mind you, I still like the 1988 Allen & Unwin cover, mainly because Miller's jaunty revision of the Barley Bros got the readers' minds off the preRaphaelites and on to some of the more psychotic readings.
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Ellen Datlow
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 08:29 pm:   

Got it today in the mail.
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Ben Wooller
Posted on Tuesday, October 25, 2005 - 10:47 pm:   

Will the Gaiman intro be made available online anywhere MJH?
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 - 01:22 am:   

Your guess is as good as mine, Ben.
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StephenB
Posted on Wednesday, October 26, 2005 - 01:35 pm:   

I looked for it on amazon.ca, couldn't find it. Is it an U.S. only release?
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MJH
Posted on Thursday, October 27, 2005 - 02:23 am:   

I believe so.
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Richard B
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 06:52 am:   

Good Morning, I hope all is well. I am a relative new comer to your work having started reading what I could find of yours just a couple of years ago. I just eagerly bought my copy of Viriconium last week and will dive into the series again as soon as I finish with Veniss Undergroud (great so far…) I do have a couple of questions though. I apologize in advance if this information has been covered elsewhere, I did look but couldn’t find anything.

I cant help but notice a couple of differences between my old copy of Viriconium Nights and the new edition. I know all about A Young Mans Journey to Viriconium, so that doesn’t need to be covered.

1) The Story/Novella “In Viriconium” from the old edition is not in the new edition.
2) The exclusion of the story “Lamia Mutable” from the new edition
3) The exclusion of “Events Witnessed from a City” from the new edition.
4) Differences between “Lamia and Lord Cromis”

Again, Wow, you’ve got another fan for life and I look forward to rounding out my collection of your title. I apologize for the legnt of this post so I’ll wrap it up with two more things. Its great to have the ability to communicate with you directly to have any questions answered and it seems that you also enjoy the works of Russell Hoban. Its very hard if not impossible to find someone who has heard of him and likes his novels.
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liz hand
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 09:20 am:   

Hey MJH. Just got my copy & it looks great. Maith Samhain (happy Halloween, sort of thing).
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MJH
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 09:43 am:   

Hi Richard B

The Bantam Spectra Viriconium (2005), is based on the Fantasy Masterworks edition (2000), which used for its short story content the 1985 Collancz version of the Viriconium Nights collection. The Gollancz edition, the result of a final revise of the short stories beginning in 1982, was intended to be the author-approved version. You must have the US edition, 1984, which puts you at an advantage in completist terms.

(1) "In Viriconium" was the short, testbed version of the novel.
(2) "Lamia Mutable" was the first-ever Viriconium story, written in 1966 and sold to Harlan Ellison 1966 or 7, but not published until the appearance of Again Dangerous Visions in, I think, 1972. I ruled it out of the Gollancz edition because it proved impossible to revise; but it survives as the root story of "The Dancer from the Dance", 1984.
(3) "Events Witnessed from A City" also proved unrevisable. I dumped it because I had never liked it anyway.
(4) This is complicated: my memory is that, by the time of the 1984 US edition, I had fully revised "The Lamia & Lord Cromis"; so if there are any differences it may be because I decided to use the original (NWQ, 1971) version for the US edition out of mischief. Or maybe I hadn't finished the revise. (It's easy enough to tell which version you have, if only because one of the characters has changed sex.)

Further: both the 1984 US version of "Lamia Mutable" and the 1984 US version of "Events Witnessed from a City" were in themselves moderate-to-heavy revises from the original versions. So to have a complete Viriconium, as opposed to the offical or author-approved Viriconium, you need to own the following books: The Machine in Shaft Ten & Other Stories, Panther, 1975; Viriconium Knights, Ace, 1984; and Viriconium, Bantam Spectra, 2005. If you'd like to read the Iain Banks introduction to Viriconium as well as Neil Gaiman's, you will also need the Unwin Hyman edition from 1988, which contains only In Viriconium and Viriconium Nights but which has the advantage of Ian Miller's cover.

For the (or an) author-preferred order of reading, it's the Fantasy Masterworks edition.
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MJH
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 09:51 am:   

Hi Liz. Nice cover, eh ? Happy All Hallows to you to; may the Mari Lwyd come in your house & eat all the cakes; to celebrate, I'll be reading Elizabeth Bowen's "All Saints".
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liz Hand
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 11:14 am:   

I wish the Mari Lwyd would come. Every year I leave the door cracked open ...

Yeah, good cover -- I like all the gears & clockwork. I may read "The Wendigo," just to get to the part with "my fiery feet! my fiery feet!" If only! my house is way too cold.
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StephenB
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 01:54 pm:   

Your Night Shades collection is on for a good price. So whatever, maybe I'll get that instead.
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liz Hand
Posted on Monday, October 31, 2005 - 02:44 pm:   

Mike -- late this afternoon I was putting gas into my car at the general store at the crossroads down the road here in Lincolnville Center. A neighbor who lives on one of the mountains pulled up to get some diesel, and called out to me, "Hey, I just bought a book by M. John Harrison." I was stunned -- this is rural Maine! I never heard of anyone here reading anything but Stephen King! He said he'd seen Viriconium prominently displayed at Barnes & Noble and picked it up. He'd never read you before, but said he'd already gotten through the first 80 pages and loved it. I told him I'd let you know ...
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MJH
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 02:36 am:   

I'm always stunned when someone I don't know buys a book of mine. Especially if they actually read it. Tell him I'm pathetically grateful, but does he know it's like saving someone's life--you become responsible for them thereafter--so it's not a transaction to be entered into lightly. Meanwhile I'll drop Bantam Spectra a note advising them to flood the Maine bookstores...

All Hallows passed without incident, except that the secular celebration got out of hand even in sleepy middle class Village Barnes, with a police van being called to disperse gangs of disaffected thirteen year old girls in £500 designer hoodies shrieking, "Are you disrespecting me?" at passing joggers, probably their dad, who's in (a) banking, (b) reinsurance or (c) publishing. Something tried to pull itself out of the pond known originally as the Mort Lake and plead for re-entry into the warmth of life etc etc, but they didn't seem to notice.
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brian lindenmuth
Posted on Tuesday, November 01, 2005 - 12:52 pm:   

Seeing that there was a new recruit up in Maine I figured I would check in from Baltimore, Maryland. I bought Viriconium at Borders last Wed. They had two copies in stock and I bought 1 of them. Today I went in there and they had 6 copies of Viriconium prominently displayed on a table with other new releases as sooon as you walk in. Then back in the SF&F section they had 2 more copies of Viriconium, 3 of Light and 1 of Course of the Heart.

Thats one hell of an improvement since last week. Not to mention that I saw 2 people considering Viriconium and 1 considering Light.
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MJH
Posted on Wednesday, November 02, 2005 - 01:52 am:   

Thanks, Brian.
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Neddal
Posted on Saturday, November 05, 2005 - 01:38 pm:   

Does anyone happen to know why none of the major online Canadian retailers seem to be carrying the new edition of "Viriconium"? e.g.
Chapters.ca - http://tinyurl.com/dtomh
Amazon.ca - http://tinyurl.com/78fya

It's easy enough to order from the U.S., it just seems strange that it's not available up here.
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billc
Posted on Saturday, November 05, 2005 - 05:20 pm:   

Likely has something to do with the way the rights were sold in the first place. The original sale might have been for UK and Commonwealth countries which would restrict Canada when a US reprint comes out.
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Anonymous
Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2005 - 07:02 am:   

The Better Together feature at Amazon has Viriconium twinned with The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands by Laura Schlessinger.
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Antonius Hamus
Posted on Thursday, November 10, 2005 - 08:38 am:   

Hi MJH,

I was reading The Fantasy Masterworks edition of Viriconium, and noticed that the paragraph breaks in The Pastel City were employed somewhat differently than in the rest of the works (or that's my rather dim recollection (I was reading it at one weekend back at my parent's place, where half of my books are, and so I can't check it out at the moment)).

Also, I felt that some of the paragraph breaks in The Pastel City were rather awkward.

Anyhow... I would really like to know whether this was a result of editing (that is, did some editor organize the paragraph breaks in The Pastel City, but not in the other novellas, short stories, etc.), or were you free from editors' tyranny from the beginning, and was it just that your own style changed in that respect during the period of several years which I would recall divided the publication (and presumably the writing) of The Pastel City and the later works?

If it was an editor's choice, is there a possibility for future revision?

(If it wasn't, I will try to read it with more confidence and conviction the next time (I read the Viriconium Knights first, and enjoyed it a lot -- and more than The Pastel City, for whatever reasons I haven't much analyzed (I liked The Pastel City, too, though)))

BTW, some places mention Viriconium Nights. I suppose this is just a spelling error... Is it?

Thanks,

AH
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MJH
Posted on Friday, November 11, 2005 - 04:30 am:   

I'm to blame for that paragraphing, Antonius. Not that I blame myself from this distance. I was trying to juggle three views of what paragraphing should do.

(a) At school I had been taught that one para equals one unit of meaning or narrative or "argument".

(b) In the NW post-pulp school we believed you should do short paras because that's what people with exciting but practical names like Hammett and Brackett (which somehow signified their exciting but practical attitude to fiction) did. While content always drove surface, we believed, paragraphs were an exception, & couldn't be left to themselves; in case--fatal error, professional disaster--the reader got bored, went off, and read someone else. Sentences were an exception too. So good, solid, practical content--working man's content, blue collar content--was what counted, and you insisted on that quite aggressively in conversation, but you were naive if you actually left it to shape things...

(c) At the same time I was trying to teach myself how to syncopate on the basis of (a), the idea being to manipulate the ratio of short to long paras to get rhythm, and counterpoint content to length of para. I was trying to do that with sentences too. As you remark, it produced some awkwardness. But you don't get anywhere except by trying to do too much at once, and in an inappropriate venue.

When you start, especially in popular fiction, especially if you were as conflicted as I was, everything is a confusing war between other people's rules of thumb. Eventually you find enough courage to take charge; later still you can relax and be "natural". I wouldn't revise TPC now (though I began to in the 80s), because I'm so not interested in what it set out to do. The value it has is to provide the signal which decays across the rest of the sequence.

Viriconium Nights is the name of the original short story collection (see posts above for details); "Viriconium Knights" is the name of the short story. This, along with all of the other spelling "errors", was part of the rationale. Viriconium, as someone remarked recently, is a continuity-person's nightmare. I'd be happy if that was its only success.
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Antonius Hamus
Posted on Friday, November 11, 2005 - 06:59 am:   

Big thanks for the insightful reply!

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