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Sunday, December 10, 2017

What is the Traction Codex?


You might have discovered that Philip Reeve's The Traction Codex is getting a re-release in 2018, quite handily timed with the first Mortal Engines movie.

Reeve's stated on Twitter in response to a question about the Codex's availability outside of UK Amazons:



But, what is The Traction Codex? 


In Reeve's own words:

"It’s a sort of encyclopaedia/history of the World of Mortal Engines, featuring all those things you Always Wanted To Know But Could Never Be Bothered To Ask, like, how did Airhaven get airborne?

Why do the cities use heavier-than-air fighters while the Green Storm stick to airships? 

Who was Red Loki? etc, etc. 

We’ve also added some details which never made it into the books, like the alarming sport of ‘Traktionturnieren‘ or civic jousting…"

Traktionturnieren jousting in the traction codex

The "we" Reeve's refers to is Jeremy Levett, whom we presume has again collaborated with Reeve on the new expanded release. 

If you want to have a peek at The Traction Codex right now, go and grab your copy of Infernal Devices. At the end are a few sample subjects which reveal traction city use of Bumper Stickers that say things like "How's our Hunting", the prior mentioned sport of Traktionturnieren and a handy explanation of the origins of the concept of Municipal Darwinism.

The airships in the top picture above are Reeve's thoughts as to what they might look like. Match the number below to the number on each ship. What do you think of the Jenny Hanniver?

1. Green Storm Air Destroyer
2. Twin-envelope ‘sky cat’
3. The 13th Floor Elevator
4. Spice Freighter from the Thousand Islands
5. Murasaki Fox Spirit
6. Cruiser of the Anti-Traction League
7. The Jenny Haniver
8. ‘Goddess’ class passenger liner
9. Serapis Moonshadow
10. Spudbury Sunbeam
11. Experimental rocket-assisted Zhang Chen Hawkmoth Mk VI, firing its boosters on an attack run.
12. Heavier-than-air fighter, as used by the freelance air-forces of the Traction War.
13. Zhang-Chen Hawkmoth

Menik Gooneratne is playing Sathya in Mortal Engines

Menik Gooneratne from Mortal Engines movie as Sathya

We've learned that Menik Gooneratne is playing the character of Sathya in the Christian Rivers director Mortal Engines movie. Sathya is a friend of Anna Fang's.

Gooneratne last appeared on the silver screen in the well received  Dev Patel film, Lion.

Like a couple of Kiwis in Mortal Engines who took a turn on Shortland Street (Joel Tobeck), Menik has done the same Australian route by way of Neighbours.  You know, where Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan made their names...

Follow Menik on Twitter

Sunday, December 3, 2017

Phillip Reeve discusses Hester Shaw's scar


hester shaw scar make up test
An artist's impression of Hester


A little while ago I found a website called 'tall tales & short stories' and it featured an interview with Philip Reeve.

The article was six years old and site is now defunct but I did copy Reeve's thoughts on Hester Shaw and her scar with the view to using it somehow one day. 

So here we go.

The interview reveals quite the insight into why Reeve did the role reversal that many books and film shy from i.e. making the female lead quite and genuinely ugly. 

Name a famous movie or book in the last 10 years where the main character is truly ugly.

I'll wait.

If you found one, good on ya. Maybe Aileen Wuornos in Monster?

Regardless, Hester Shaw is the clear fan favourite when it comes to the Mortal Engines series. While part of her might want to live a happy, healthy life, the Hyde to her Jackal is that she is a murderous wee thing with a hair trigger for violence.
 
So with that in mind, here's what Reeve said of Hester's scar after this question:

The main female character, Hester, in the Mortal Engines series is facially disfigured which I find an interesting, but welcome, choice for a female lead.

Was this a conscious decision made at the outset of writing the first book or did it evolve along the way? And what prompted this decision? 

Reeve's answer:

Women warriors are a bit of a cliche in Science Fiction and Fantasy, and they tend to be very glamorous or at least good looking.

But it struck me that people who live by their wits in wastelands tend not to be that glamorous or good looking, and who cares about beautiful people anyway?

So I decided right from the start to make Hester ugly, and I liked the idea that the hero would slowly fall in love with her anyway, which is far more interesting than having two gorgeous people seeing each other across a crowded room and falling in love.

Then it seemed to make sense to give Hester a scar, which she's received at the hands of the villain, so there's her initial motivation - revenge - right there on her face; she's like Captain Ahab with his missing leg!

sketch of hester shaw scar
But I didn't want it to be a little cosmetic scar - the Hollywood way of dealing with facial disfigurement is always to have somebody who's a bit messed up seen from one angle but is still gorgeous from most others.

 So Hester's scar is really grotesque; I didn't want her to be pretty from any angle!

I think in the first book my idea was that actually, under this hideous exterior, she's lovely and sweet, but when I went back to write the sequel I thought that someone who had been through what she has, and looks as she does, probably wouldn't be sweet and well-adjusted, so she goes further and further off the rails as the series progresses, though I hope she remains sympathetic, and even attractive in a Ripley-ish way (Tom Ripley, that is, not Ellen).

-

That's pretty much encapsulates the character quite well!

So the big question remains, what will Christian River's version of Hester look like in the ME movie?

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Official ME Facebook pages cropping up


With the confirmation a Mortal Engines trailer is on the way, it looks like Universal Pictures is preparing for the promotional campaign.

Three new Mortal Engines Facebook pages have cropped up this weekend.

They look to be Swiss, French and German.

The official movie website is still dormant though we imagine if the trailer goes live this month, it will too.

You can of course get the real deal, ME experience at our Facebook Page and Group.

Hat Tip to @MortalEnginesSE for giving us the heads up!

A Mortal Engines teaser trailer is on its way. SOON. Like The Last Jedi SOON.


An eagle eyed fan has discovered that Canada's Consumer Protection BC unit has approved the release of a Mortal Engines movie teaser trailer.

This is a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

Consumer Protection BC is a Canadian government entity and a key role is "Classifying all motion pictures exhibited in BC".

If you're a true blue Star Wars fan you will know two things right now.

You will have noted the Star Wars quote above from Emperor Palpatine and you'll also know that The Last Jedi is released in less that two weeks!

We're thus of a firm view that the Mortal Engines teaser will be shown during screenings of The Last Jedi.

Which kind of makes sense - Universal Pictures will be going in large on this Peter Jackson produced movie so a great way to get the hype train going as fast as a railhead can go is to get in in front of as many people as possible and the new Star Wars movie will serve that need!

Here's the proof:

mortal engines teaser trailer

Approved means approval to release to the Canadian public so we can reasonably expect that similar arrangements are happening across the globe.

Art credit: KAEK

Friday, November 24, 2017

"P. P. Bellman, author of atheistic pop-up books for the trendy toddler?"


I came across this extremely thoughtful review or consideration of Mortal Engines by Max at What Conspiracy? and felt I should share part of it.

After taking us thorough a quick tour of academic snobism (is that a word?), a pass over of Harry Potter and an examination of Phillip Pullman of Northern Lights fame, he solves the meaning of a line that amused me no end:

"Philip Bellman with his series of atheistic pop-up books for the underfives"

That's what Max wrote anyway.

The correct quote from Infernal Devices is "..and wasn’t that the great P. P. Bellman, author of atheistic pop- up books for the trendy toddler??"


Which itself is a reference to the novels of Pullman. His trilogy can been described as the antidote to the Christian beat that C.S. Lewis framed the Chronicles of Narnia with - hence the reference to atheism in Infernal Devices.

Indeed, Reeve has included many cultural references in his novels.

This paragraph is possibly the best description of Mortal Engines as a series that I've ever come across:

"Reeve is still a damn fine writer. Mortal Engines is set in a future where thousands of years of squabbling over the ruins of a war shattered earth has culminated in a stand off between mobile cities and stationary communities. 

Now the physics and logistics of such a vision don't bear serious examination for a second, but Reeve is able to write fast enough that a reader doesn't quibble. 

He's also able to write characters with enough appeal that you're far busier wondering what's going to happen to them than you are picking away at the sustainability of "Municipal Darwinism", the bonkers post-thatcherite philosophy which drives the traction cities in their quest to scavenge smaller cities and fight with bigger ones. 

A few weeks after I've finished reading the books, I'm coming around to the notion that once you dig into the logic of his books, he's essentially marketing the same dumb notion of sustainable pastoral nirvana as Tolkien did, but that doesn't stop me from admiring the books he's written while smoking that weed."

I'm pleased someone else had picked up on the notion that municipal darwinism was indeed bonkers as the environment in which Mortal Engines is set would have meant that every city would have been eaten up a thousand years ago. But why quibble when it's a great device on which to propel the story?

Max also captures the character and fan favourite Hester Shaw quite well and fully appreciates the role reversal that Reeve puts on her and Katherine Valentine:

"In conventional fiction, Hester would die early, delivering a plot lesson along the way and be replaced by someone cute. In Reeve's world, Hester lasts all the way through four books, and gets meaner and unhappier the further she goes. Her one saving grace is her love for Tom. Meanwhile the cute girl who he's been lined up with in conventional narrative terms gets shot to bits in the first book."

He also makes a key point about character death:

"Reeve is cavalier with characters. If they get in harm's way, they get killed. If Reeve has spent huge energy bringing them to life, that's just too bad. The third book begins with a perfect case in point. 

A character who's been painstakingly nursed through the second book returns in the third as a key mover and shaker. Just when you've decided that he's going to be the villain of the piece, he takes a bullet through the head in the course of a theft turned hostage taking which is so elegantly set up as a plausible bungle that I was rapt with admiration as a focal character is dragged off in a submarine with nothing to be done about it.

Snatching her was the last thing anyone wanted to do, and by a simple set of bad calls (the most important of which was Hester's entirely in-character decision to kill everyone in sight) becomes the only possible outcome. Marvellous stuff."

A very insightful review indeed!

Concept design of Airhaven from Mortal Engines book series by Eleth89


Wednesday, November 15, 2017

Richard Armitage nearly had a Mortal Engines acting gig

richard armitage

In an interview with Den of Geek about his role in Ocean's Eight, Richard 'Oakenshield' Armitage noted that he almost had a part in Christian River's Mortal Engines.

He said:

"I was very close to working with Peter and Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh this year on Christian Rivers' latest movie, but I couldn't quite make it work, because of 'Berlin Station'.

And what is Berlin Station

It's the television show Armitage is starring in that features him as a CIA agent.

The three time The Hobbit actor also said:

"But I know that I'll work with them again in the future and I'll be back in New Zealand at some point, so 'The Hobbit' has left such a legacy with me, that it's sort of a little beating heart that I'll always be grateful for."

Which is all nice and polite eh?

We wonder what role he could have been up for? Shrike perhaps? Maybe even a perhaps older Tom Natsworthy? A smaller role?