Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Viriconium is a fictional city created by M. John Harrison and also the name of the cycle of novels and stories set in and around it.
Viriconium lies in a dying Earth littered with the detritus of the millennia, partly drawn from Jack Vance's own Dying Earth series. The Pastel City concerns the defence of the eponymous city against northern "barbarians" by a melancholy swordsman and poet, Lord tegeus-Cromis. A Storm of Wings replays the same story, but this time the attackers are insect-like aliens: the story is told through both human and alien points of view and perceptions. In Viriconium parodies Arthurian motifs and deconstructs the whole series to show that Viriconium is just a fiction: the protagonist Audsley King realizes this and at last can paint the real world, which is our own. The short fiction replays this attrition; finally, in "A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium" (later retitled "A Young Man's Journey to London"), Viriconium has become little more than a dream.
Variations of the city appear throughout the series (most frequently as Uriconium and Vriko), in an attempt by Harrison to subvert the concept of thoroughly-mapped secondary worlds featured in certain works of fantasy, particularly those by J. R. R. Tolkien and his host of writerly successors. 
The Viriconium series tends to split readers: they either love it or hate it; few are indifferent. Those looking for a robust science fantasy will be disappointed; those willing to delve further may well be rewarded.
- "What It Might Be Like To Live In Viriconium", by M. John Harrison
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