Saturday, March 10, 2018

Who is Anna Fang from Mortal Engines?

Meet Anna Fang of the Anti Traction League 

Spoilers below for those who have not read the novel.

In the Mortal Engines novel, Anna Fang is an Asian aviator that Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy meet shortly after their 'expulsion' from the city of London.
She's mysterious.

She's cold.

Yet warm.

She might slice and dice you.

She might make you a cake.

When we first meet Anna it quickly transpires she is a pretty handy in a tight spot. Shortly after she meets Hester and Tom at Speedwell, they escape. At the floating city of Airhaen she saves Tom and Hester from the Shrike when he attacks.

Further into the novel Anna Fang leads a successful attack on  the pirate town 'Tunbridge Wheels' and destroys it. She then later picks up Tom and Hester for a second time. Despite knowing she is an Anti-Tractionist (which gives Tom concerns) our dynamic duo quickly find friendship with Anna.

Anna's mortal fate occurs at the end of the novel when she is killed by dastardly Thaddeus Valentine when he stabs her through the neck, during an epic sword fight.

But wait, there's more!

While plenty of people die in Mortal Engines, it's hard to keep a good anti-tractionist agent down and in the sequel Predator's Gold, her character is literally brought back to do. Pretty easy in a world where Stalkers roam eh?

So meet stalker Anna Fang

If you've got this far, you know of the stalkers.

They are the re-animated dead beings corrupted by unexplained technology from long dead civilizations.

Stalkers are usually under the control of their masters but it's hard to keep a good Anna Fang down....

In Predator's Gold, Anna Fang's body is stolen from her burial place by the rebellious 'Green Storm' and subjected to the re-animation process and brought back to life.

Stalker Anna Fang quickly assumes control of the Green Storm, absorbs the Anti Traction league and sets out to assert her will across the land. She basically becomes a military dictator.

This new version of Anna Fang proves to be a fantastic character as Philip Reeve casts her as a bit of a Jackel and Hyde character. While she is indeed a re animated corpse that's hell bent on the destruction of just about the entire human race, her original, more loving personality continues to bubble through.

Poor Fishcake gets to see both personalities as he escorts her on her mission to wreak havoc across humanity by using the ODIN weapon.

Eventually Stalker Anna Fang is killed by Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal, but only after the 'good' Anna Fang surfaced long enough to turn of the ODIN device.

What is Anna Fang's back story?

anna fang sketchIf one picks through the books one can work out some details about the life Anna Fang led prior to when we first meet her in the original novel. Of course one has to read all four novels in the series...

Here we go then.

Anna's life and thus back story begins as the child of air traders in the Ice Wastes.

When the family  airship was captured, she became a slave in the northern ice city of Arkangel, under the control of Stilton Kael (Whom readers of Predator's Gold, might know as 'Uncle').

As she grew, Fang managed to build the Jenny Haniver in secret by taking  parts from here and there like she was the subject of some kind of Johnny Cash song and then escaped in it.

Anna made her way to raft city Perfume Harbour. She  was eventually introduced to and ended up working as a spy for the Anti-Traction League. Her claim to fame was the destruction of mechanical cities that threatened the safety of  static settlements (anti tractionist) including the celebrated city of Marseilles.

When Philip Reeve's new short story collection Night Flights is released, we will be able to fill in all the details around Anna's back story because the stories are all about her!

"The official synopsis says the stories show gripping, moving, exciting moments in Anna Fang's life: her childhood as a slave aboard the moving city Arkangel, her daring escape, an attempt to sabotage the moving cities, a showdown against a Stalker, her free life as an intelligence agent for the Anti-Traction league, and an adventure into the haunted skies of the Dead Continent, America."

Who plays Anna Fang in the Mortal Engines movie?

Singer Jihae has stepped up to play the character. If you've seen the trailer for the Mortal Engines, you may have heard her singing a cover of Vera Lynn's There'll Always Be An England.

actress jihae from Mortal Engines film

Check out Jihae's excellent cover version of the over-covered Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Shrike pencil art by Reb Hermit

This Shrike pencil sketch by Reb Hermit (Dontdrinktheink) is simply wonderful.

Reb has really brought out Shrikes 'dead look'!

shrike pencil sketch from mortal engines

In the Mortal Engines movie, Shrike is played by Stephan Lang. Many will know him from Avatar but he will be unrecognizable in the film.

In the American book version, Shrike was actually called Grike. We suspect a few American readers will be confused when they first see the movie!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What are the translation names of the Mortal Engines books?

The name Mortal Engines is such a great name that Phillip Reeve chose for his first novel.

It has a double meaning in that it references big giant mechanized cities that run around eating each other under the concept of Municipal Darwinism' and also it references that humans are mortal, fragile and they can be broken both physically and mental.

Such are the novel's themes!

If you've ever read Othello, you might have spied that Reeve borrowed the words for the title!*

But does this work when the title is translated into languages other than English? You decide.

Book One: Mortal Engines

  • French Translation: Mécaniques Fatales
  • Spanish Translation: Maquinas Mortales
  • German: Krieg der Städte - this translates as War of the Cities.
  • Turkish: Yürüyen Kentler 

Book Two: Predators Gold

  • French: L'Or du prédateur
  • Spanish: El oro del depredador
  • Turkish: İhanet Altını

Book Three: Infernal Devices

  • French Translation: Machinations infernales
  • Spanish Translation: Inventos Infernales
  • Turkish: Cehennem Makineleri

* A Darking Plain's title is also quite interesting as it is borrowed from Matthew Arnold's famous poem Dover Beach and it's use in the novel refers to the chaotic battles of the book.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

What was the Sixty Minute War in Mortal Engines?

sixty minute war mortal engines

What was the Sixty Minute War?

The Sixty Minute War was a global battle that took place thousands of years before the events of the Mortal Engines Quartet and the Fever Crumb Series.

The 60 minute name conveys that the war took only an hour to begin and end - this was due to the speed and efficiency of the weapons of mass destruction used.

This is because of the way nuclear war scenarios work.

Say Country A decides to wipe out Country B. B can detect the launch of A.

They have time to understand that even though their country is about to be wiped out, they can get their own bloody revenge on Country A.

So they will launch their their own missiles at Country A ensuring that it is destroyed too. This is called mutual self destruction.

While the former Soviet Union played brinkmanship games with the US (think the Cuban Missile Crisis) no country has crossed the line as they know there's a large chance that they will lose everything themselves (Hiroshima and Nagasaki aside as only the US had such weapons at the time).

So in the book and movie of Mortal Engines, there was of course a 'cold war' between various nations that directly led to the war's start. The mutual self destruction concept played out and when the first strike was launched, the other nations responded in kind.

And once the arms were deployed, some from the land, some from orbiting satellites in space and may be the odd submarine, the so called 'war' was over and done with in an hour.

This was the classic doom's day scenario leading to a desolate Earth where most of humanity was destroyed. In Reeve's novels North America became known as The Dead Continent and thought inhospitable for human life.

Two of the weapons were known as the MEDUSA, which features in the first novel and the second, ODIN, is first featured in the third novel of the Predator Cities Quartet, Infernal Devices.

The ODIN weapon was used by Stalker Anna Fang in A Darkling Plain to great effect when she went on a rather magnificent rampage and destroyed all in her path.

The original novel also noted at page 7 that 'tailored virus bombs' were also used. We can only imagine the horror that those weapons delivered on to Earth's population.

What is the Dead Continent?

The Dead Continent is the name given to what we would considered modern North America.

As the center of the  American Empire, it was a key target during the infamous Sixty Minute  

By the time of the late Traction Era, it was regarded by many humans as a barren, irradiated, desolate and unhospitable land, lost to time.

Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal claimed to have adventured and explored the Dead Continent and wrote a very popular book about his travels.

The truth was a few people where in the know - many of the parts from the MEDUSA weapon where sourced from the continent.

In Predator's Gold, the novel finished with Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw deciding to settle in Vineland, an area of the Dead Continent that was discovered to be habitable and sustainable in the long-term.

As to what the author Philip Reeve had to say about what he thought was going on:

"I think it's actually highly unlikely that the US is a 'dead continent' - however badly knocked about it was, it would have been re-seeded with plants and animals by the time of Mortal Engines. So I expect Valentine and other explorers have missed a lot of thriving low-intensity settlements and secret airbases.

I was thinking of secret airbases full of pirate airships etc, but who knows - maybe there are whole underground societies which went into deep bunkers when the bombs started falling and are still waiting for the all clear."

If you think this concept from Philip Reeve's book was interesting, check out his theory of municipal darwinism.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

We have a new Facebook Page!

Given Universal Studios appears to have used the power of Hollyw$$d and taken our Facebook page for their own purposes*, we've created a new one - and of course it's for all fans of the books and movie.

All posts published here will end up there.

That picture above reminds us that we have yet to solve our suspicions about a recent whale disappearance involving Peter Jackson! 

Follow the Facebook page!

* Seriously, Mortal Engines will need all the support it can get as a new franchise and the BRAND itself behaves this way. Clearly the days when PJ and Co went out of their way to help the fan base and engage in meaningful ways. I guess Universal is more worried about Facebook likes?

Mortal Engines is not Mad Max, it's just mad, Max.

Did you enjoy the new Mad Max movie teaser that came out last week?

It had a giant city chasing a smaller, traction city?

The new one directed by Christian Rivers?

Well, according to so many people on Twitter, the new Mortal Engines is a bit like Mad Max.

And therefore is 'discount Mad Max' or 'it literally looks like such a rip of mad max'.

I presume this in in reference to Fury Road, which was a fabulous movie and a sumptuous CGI delight of trucks and cars trying to crush one another.

That said:

The Mad Max I know is a biker gang terrorizing Max's family.

The Mad Max I know is a gang led by a flamboyant gentleman called Humongous.

The Mad Max I know is all about a pig killer.

The Mad Max I know is about a one armed truck driver who can kick it with the worst of them.

These are great movies, all visionary in various ways.

They are not about giant cities that roam the Earth looking for resources.

And they certainly do not look like what we saw in the Mortal Engines teaser trailer.

But so many people seem to have commented that it is.

We honestly wonder why this is?

If they are referring to Mad Max Fury Road, this is Mad Max Fury Road:

Which frankly reminds me of this guy from Rogue One:

Sure there's a big chase going in Fury Road and there's one going on in Mortal Engines, so that must be it right?

Well if anything, that teaser is basically a remix mix of the opening 2 minutes of one of the greatest scientific films of all time, Star Wars.

You recall how that goes right? A giant massive Star Destroyer rolls down the screen and it takes what seems like forever to show the scale of the thing. We then see it is actually chasing a small ship. Which it eventually captures and draws into itself.

Which is basically the teaser!

So instead of saying Mortal Engines looks like Max Max, would it be better to bitch and gripe that it rips off the start of Star Wars?

The truth is that for most people of a certain age (young twitter users who comment on movie trailers) Mad Max Fury Road is possibly their only reference point to a post apocalyptic event movie.

I'd wager most of them have not seen the original Max Max trilogy for a start. They've probably never scene, The Road, The Postman, THX 1138, The Book of Eli, Water World, Escape from New York, 12 Monkies, The Quiet Earth, Zardoz, Cherry 2000, Judge Dredd (Stallone version) or Planet of the Apes.

One could argue that Mortal Engines looks a lot like some of those movies. 

Or Not.

I passed comment on Twitter about this matter as any rapid fan boy that is hugely protective of THEIR story is wont to do so:.

And none other than the writer of the novels, Philip Reeve chipped in with his views.

We still don't see but hey, if the book's author gets it, maybe I should just chill out and get back to over-thinking the fact that Hester Shaw has two eyes... or wondering about Howl's Moving Castle.....

And if you want to read without a sense of irony (?) Philip Reeve actually wrote up a review of Mad Max: Fury Road !!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Station Zero is getting closer...

Phillip Reeve posted to his Instagram account proofs of his forthcoming novel, Station Zero:

Station Zero is the third book in the Railhead serious. It is separate and distinct from Mortal Engines!

It would appear Reeve is letting us know that there are four parts to the novel.

Here's the official blurb:

"The stunning conclusion to the acclaimed and prizewinning Railhead trilogy.

What happens after the adventure of a lifetime? For Zen, it's a safe, comfortable life of luxury. But it's not what Zen wants. He misses the thrill of riding the rails, of dodging danger, and of breathing the air of different planets.

Most of all of course he misses Nova - lost to him forever in a distant world. But then one day a mysterious message arrives - and that's all Zen needs to head right off, ready for anything. Except that no one could be ready for what he finds . . .

Thrilling, thought-provoking, and breathtaking, this finale to the Railhead trilogy weaves a web of wonder, full of characters and events you will never forget?"

You can order Station Zero from Amazon.