Monday, August 21, 2017

Mortal Engines, a second time around review

I first bought and read the book after learning that Christian Rivers was directing Peter Jackson's production. Jackson was doing a sci-fi film, his first since District 9?

I was VERY curious.

At the news, I found myself deciding to make  and here we are, having recently re-read the first Mortal Engines novel for the second time.

I thought I would share my experience.

So what of this second read?

Spoilers below. 

I found Philip Reeve's novel to be an even better read through than the first time (which I thought was pretty good!)

There are a few reasons for this.

The first is that I had a better appreciation of the plot and the direction it was headed. Having read the entire series I had a stronger understanding of what the traction era was really about. In the first read through I was along for the ride, turning page after page simply keen to see what going to happen to Tom and Hester (would the Shrike get them) but I did not stop to smell the roses.

A second read through allowed me to digest some of the finer points. I had greater appreciation for what Katherine Valentine was feeling in terms of her father's dastardly deeds, I felt I kind of understood what made Hester tick a little bit better and I saw Tom as less of a plodding school boy but more of the hero that Hester doesn't think he is.

I really enjoyed how some of the plot details were later used to set up or call back to the original book in the last novel, A Darkling Plain (review). Things that Clytie Potts and Chudleigh Pomery did and said worked quite well in the context of what they later get up to. Indeed, all the minor characters, good and bad prove, to be quite fun and serve to quietly drive plot points.

I enjoyed reading the references to the real world that Philip Reeves made. Brief mentions of Mickey Mouse and obscure references to old bands were a lot of fun!

I was also able to greatly enjoy Anna Fang's character and appreciate that her actions to look after Tom and Hester were not only in their own interest and that her killer streak that lurked below the surface and was only really hinted at was really the basis for what Stalker Anna Fang would become in Infernal Devices (review) and beyond.

In regards the movie, I have high hopes for the character of Anna Fang, especially with her sword fight with Thaddeus Valentine!

Finally, having learned that the title of the book was a reference to Shakespeare's Othello, I was able to enjoy the double meaning of the book even more given the various character deaths that happen.

I also found myself confirming a view I'd had for a while that Municipal Darwinism was fine in theory but in the context of the book's parameters, it should have died out thousands of years ago.

Verdict: A classic read that will stand the test of time for a fair while.

Saturday, August 19, 2017

My crazy theory about Peter Jackson stealing a whale

Bear with me, I have a theory.

A crazy theory.

It's so crazy you should just skip this post.

The wife and I took the kids to the Te Papa Museum at Wellington today and noticed that the blue whale that hangs from the ceiling was missing. I was a bit disappointed as it's really cool, even more impressive than the colossal squid they have as an attraction.

And then I moved on.

Later as the kids were having fluffies, this concept art popped into my head:

And I was like to my wife "Peter Jackson has stolen the whale to use in Mortal Engines!" My wife looked at me like I was some kind of loon and handed out some crackers to the kids.

Here are the facts:

Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers are making the Mortal Engines movie in Wellington.

They need a whale skeleton for the museum scene in Mortal Engines.

The whale is gone.

Read between the lines people!


Thursday, August 10, 2017

The ME costume department's motto was to "make it beautiful"!

A crew member from Mortal Engines posted a gift they were given from the Costume Department of the ME production. It shows the best yet look at the crew logo designs!

movement is life mortal engines

Note the phrase "movement is life" -  that's a real motto for the film if there was one. The Costume Department's moto appears to have been "Make it beautiful".

IMDB lists Bob Buck and Kate Hawley as being in charge of Costume Design.

Both designers  have done several tours of duty on New Zealand based productions & Peter Jackson related movies, most notably the Hobbit films.

Patrick Malahide confirmed as playing Magnus Chrome in Mortal Engines

patrick malahide magnus chrome mortal engines

Patrick Malahide has finally been confirmed as playing the Magnus Chrome, the Mayor of London Traction CityWell, at least according to IMDB.

We just love the name Magnus Chrome.

It rolls off the tongue so well and reminds us of Ultra Magnus from Transformers and also it somehow echoes the bad guy in Mad Max: Road Warrior, 'The Humungus'.

The character in Mortal Engines is pretty cool too.

Anyways, Malahide is a great choice for the part of Chrome as any Game of Thrones fans will know he can will be able to tap in the dark side of the mind required to portray Chrome.

Malahide is arguably most well known for playing Balon Greyjoy in in Game of Thrones but his recent turn in Bridget Jones's Baby really out him on the map! 

We jest, Patrick has had an extensive film and television career dating to back to 1976 and is very well known as a quality British actor. 

Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Kee Chan's role as Governor of Batmunkh Gompa

Kee chan mortal engines with robbie sheehan

IMDB continues to report that  is playing "Governor Kwan" in Mortal Engines.

Readers of ME will recall that there's no such named character in the novel the movie is based on.

Or is there?

Tom and Hester actually do meet a Governor Ermee Khan, the Governor of Batmunkh Gompa.

Khan not Kwan.

Hidden behind the shield wall, Batmunkh Gompa is an anti-tractionist city and a would-be prize for Magnus Chrome and his city of London.

So if IMDB has the name wrong and even if it has been changed (but why?!) let's presume the Governor from the book, is in the movie.

Who, then is Kee Chan?

kee chan as male dee in star wars
Chan as Dee in ROTS
An Australian actor, he tends to have small roles in Hollywood productions that are filmed in Australia.

A classic example was his small part as a Sentator Malé-Dee in Revenge of the Sith or a wee turn as a chemist in Mission Impossible II. 

We presume that given Tom and Hester meet the Governor Khan in the novel, he will have a thing or two to say about the threat of the Medusa weapon!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Phillip Reeve's BBC interview on his Mortal Engines set visit

Mortal Engines writer and Dartmoor's favourite adopted-son, Mr Philip Reeve was interviewed by David Fitzgerald of the BBC about his recent Mortal Engines film set visit in Wellington New Zealand.

Claiming to be "just the writer" Reeve was full of praise for the actors who 'acted their socks off'.

Reeve explained to DJ David how it was very strange to see the movie sets inspired by a book that had he written.

Reeve noted that given he finished writing the several books many years ago so he was able mentally leave them behind so he didn't feel too much ownership of what he saw. 

He joked that the production crew were amused that they had never worked with a living author before as the 6 Lord of the Rings movies were written by Tolkien. This made me wonder what happened with The Lovely Bones author, Alice Sebold? Turns out she was a 'friendly bystander'.

When questioned whether New Zealand's amazing scenery would be featuring in the movie, Reeve explained that most of the exteriors were being created digitally. We imagine however that director Christian Rivers has surely sent out some production units to grab some mountains from somewhere....

The interview then turned to Reeve's more current book series that starts with Railhead and continues with Black Light Express, the inspiration for those novels (he found his attempt at a story on spaceships was boring) and that trains are actually good places for thinking on!

Reeve also talked about Hugo Weaving and Patrick Malahide being in the movie which Fitzgerald seemed quite surprised about.

The interview made us wonder whether Reeves had sold the filming rights to Railhead...

 Update: Here's a transcript some very keen person made.

What is the 'Traktionstadtsgesellschaft' in Mortal Engines?

 Traktionstadtsgesellschaft mortal engines

The Traktionstadtsgesellschaft is an collective of Germanic traction cities that are introduced in the fourth novel of the Mortal Engines series, in A Darkling Plain.

Originally, it was a collective of twelve German-speaking traction cities who joined together to resist the advance of the anti-tractionist army Green Storm who were intent on destroying all traction cities.

The battles that followed eventually led to a stalemate between each side. Cities who did not join the 'front lines' of Traktionstadtsgellschaft often sent money or supplies to help in the war effort, and also profited from selling the alliance weapons.

The cities entered into explicit agreement not to prey on each other until the war with the Green Storm was won however some less-ethical towns such as Wolf Kobold's Harrowbarrow continued hunting for prey as he thought the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft's deferral of Municipal Darwinism would lead to the small city losings its edge.

The Traktionstadtsgesellschaft grouping was effectively destroyed when the Stalker Anna Fang attacked and destroyed most of its bigger cities with the ODIN weapon which she had taken control of.

How does one pronounce the word 'Traktionstadtsgesellschaft'?

It's not easy to say if you break it down in the following way:

Traktion (Traction) Stadt (City) Gesellschaft (Society)

Artwork by Keak

Thursday, August 3, 2017

Leifur Sigurdarson is playing Nils Lindstrom

LEIFUR SIGURDARSON Nils Lindstrom Mortal Engines

IMDB suggests that Leifur Sigurdarson is playing the minor character of Nils Lindstrom in the Mortal Engines film.

Lindstrom is one of Captain Khora's pals and an associate of Anna Fang. He runs into some grief at the Gasbag and Gondola when the whole crew first encounter stalker Shrike.

This is Leifur Sigurdarson's first role in a movie. His agency is Kirsty Bunny Management. Wellington based, he's worked in policy roles with Government and will now have a chance to make a make on the Hollywood scene!

Wednesday, August 2, 2017

How should the Mortal Engines film start?

We really hope that it begins as it does on the very first page of the original book. We know that Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers will no doubt change things up (Reeve's has actually confirmed this) but there is something magical about that first line of the novel:

"It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town cross the dried-out bed of the old North Sea."

It's become quite a famous first line. We recently learned that it was in part inspired by the George Orwell book, 1984.

What we really, really want though is for Stephen Lang to narrate the line over the actual scene as his character Shrike.

There's precedent for an opening narration as Cate Blanchett did one for The Fellowship of the Ring and practically the whole of The Lovely Bones was narrated by Saoirse Ronan.

The reason for the character of Shrike doing this would be to allow the movies to come full circle like they do in the novels.

Spoilers for those who haven't read a book that came out in 2006.

The fourth and final adventure in the Mortal Engines series is called A Darkling Plain. It is a grand tale of adventure which ends with the Shrike telling the tale of life. He begins the tale by reciting the first line of the original novel. It's a nice literary twist in the tale and a touching moment that draws the story to an emotional close.

It would be amazing to think that if the Mortal Engines film series is able to get to 4 films (17 if we know Jackson) that it finishes in a similar vein.

Joel Tobeck is playing the Bürgermeister, a mayor of a city

Tobeck is apparently playing a 'Bürgermeister'

IMDB is continuing to suggest that Kiwi actor Joel Tobeck is playing the role of a Bürgermeister in the Mortal Engines movie.

In the novel, the word Bürgermeister is not explicitly mentioned but in the German language it effectively means 'Mayor' and there's a fair few mayors in charge of traction cities in the book eh?

This makes sense as the Mortal Engines novels eventually get to the point in A Darkling Plain where we meet whole cities of Germanic ancestry who collectively formed the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft. This grouping fought the Green Storm.
Tobeck as Ord Guritz in Return of the King

This role is a chance of a life time for Tobeck as it is going to be a big movie an arguably the biggest part of his career.

A well established Kiwi actor with a fine list of TV and film credits behind him, Tobeck has worked on a Peter Jackson production before as both as a featured orc called Guritz and soldier in the Return of the King.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Fancy a pint down the Gasbag and Gondola?

We found a great drawing by Peter Yea of the scene in Mortal Engines when Hester and Tom are finally found by the Shrike! He attacks them at the Gasbag and Gondola Inn.

shrike attacks tom and hester in mortal engines

Check out Peter's Facebook page for a great look at his designs - they are fantastic.

The Mortal Engines film crew

Found on the instagrams, this is an on set photo of the Mortal Engines film crew. Taken I think at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, NZ.

You can see PJ in the front and but I can't figure which one is Christian Rivers. Any ideas?

Stone Street Studios recently posted this picture to their Facebook page - note the whiteboard to the right making reference to Thaddeus and Katherine Valentine...

mortal engines costumers

And we found the note of thanks from Christian and the producers to the film crew when filming wrapped:

For those so curious, the word Arohanui is Maori for 'a lot of love'.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The Reevening II: Phillip Reeve Q&A Round 2 on the Mortal Engines Discord

valentine kills anna fang drawing

Mortal Engines author Phillip Reeve had such a good time on during his last Q&A (The Reevening) with the the great fans that lurk on the Mortal Engines Discord Server that he readily agreed to go another round of questions and answers.

As before, this is a selection of ME related discussion, there's plenty more Railhead and the like on the Discord.

Phillip Reeve sure is a good bloke! Questions in bold...

Crow-Caller kicked the Reevening 2 off with:

From Mortal engines to Larklight to Railhead, your worldbuilding has always been an inspiration to me. Is there any particular approach you take when writing? Beyond an initial idea, how much planning do you do? What is your process like, if you have one, for world making?

Good question...

I tend to start off with an image and mood I'm after. Then I just start writing with very little planning, going as fast as I can, writing all sorts of scenes which probably never get used, and slowly the world starts to come into focus. I like to keep them very expandable, so that things I notice in real life can find their way in: I don't start out with a firm set of rules or a map, I prefer to let the story help to create the world as it goes along.

So in Mortal Engines, for instance, Mr Shrike suddenly turned up, and I had to work out what he was, were there any others like him, if not what had happened to them, etc. And a bit of the world's history took shape around him.

In Railhead I had this whole galactic empire set-up sorted out, and some of the planets, and then the idea of the trains which link the different worlds came quite late, and the whole thing had to be rewritten around them - but the feel of the world was already set.

Actually, the mobile cities came quite late in Mortal Engines, too...

I basically faff around for about a year, and then the big central image arrives which makes sense of it all!

Epiphany Continumm chipped in a comment in reference to the cities::

wow, really? they're there in the original Urbivore short, which i assumed was a very early iteration

No, it started out as a sort of post-apocalyptic thing; the airships were there, and a sort of proto-Hester. When I thought of the cities it seem,ed such an obvious idea that I was afraid someone would beat me to it before I could write the novel, so I banged out a short story as a way of staking my claim. (I'm mortified that it's still available in some form, but that's the internet, I guess - nothing's ever gone!

Of course, you could argue that the early versions without moving cities were actually a different book, and I just used bits of it in M.E. But to me it felt like the same project.

A discussion on UFOs sighted in Reeve's Dartmoor led to this comment:

I've vaguely thought about doing a UFO book - kids in the 70s faking a close encounter for some reason. It would be a historical novel, based on history I lived through!

Hello!! Your books are full of brilliant, distinctive character names that seem to get stuck in my head e.g. Threnody Noon, Arlo Thursday, Pewsey & Gench. How do you go about choosing names for particular characters? And which of your characters do you think has the best one?

Prof Pennyroyal has an old flame called Minty Bapsnack which is a name I'm rather pleased with.

It's usually about finding the right sound, and the right rhythm. Some names just come instantly, others you have grope around for and they change many times. Some are real names - Pewsey and Gench both came off of gravestones in Brighton Cemetery. Others are places - Natsworthy is just up the road from me here on Dartmoor, Hester was originally Hester Shaugh, after Shaugh Prior, another Dartmoor village, but it's best to have names people can pronounce, so she became Hester Shaw.

I'm always noticing names, or colliding two words and finding they make a name. It's the most enjoyable bit of the job!

Oh, and airship names I usually take as an excuse to insert a 'found' name - a line of poetry, the title of a song or book - its the same with trains in Railhead. I don't expect people to get them all as references - and if you do recognise them, I don't think it adds anything - it's more a way to give some texture to the world. Our own world is full of references (street names, pub names etc) so it's a way of replicating that process in my made-up world.

I think it was the ugliness and curtness of Shaugh which made it appeal. And I used to think Hester was a kind of hissy, unattractive name, but after writing about her for all those years I've come to like it.

Re. airship names, there's a SF novel by M John Harrison called The Centauri Device which I read when I was a student, and it has great spaceship names - The Strange Great Sins, the Atalanta in Calydon - such a change from the usual Enterprise, Liberator, whatever. So I always tried to emulate those. And I guess Iain M Banks read it too...

[ed note - we love the reference to the Liberator from Blake's 7!]

Did you originally write ME etc. by hand? I've seen you write "putting pen to paper" a few times and it made me wonder...

Yes, the early drafts were in notebooks - usually pencil rather than pen. I didn't own a computer then! The final drafts were mostly typed, but I still sometimes write longhand.

We’ve heard “Mortal Engines Quartet” “Predator Cities” and “The Hungry Cities Chronicles” to refer to the series as a whole. Which do you prefer? Also, which book cover designs are your favorite for the series?

Aaaargh, the proliferation of series titles has been incredibly annoying! I've always called it the Mortal Engines Quartet, I think the other names are rubbish. My first US publisher wanted to call the 1st book 'Hungry City' and when I refused they consoled themselves by using that as a series title. 'Predator Cities' was an a later attempt to link the books together. The result is that nobody knows what the series is called, including me.

David Wyatt did some fabulous covers, but they were used with a strange outer cover with a hole in, so they were hard to read and kept getting damaged. His covers for the Fever Crumb books are great, too; they've just been used on new UK paperback editions. I think DW's ones are closer to my vision, but the D Frankland covers are lovely, and by far the most popular.

What are some of the most memorable fan interactions you've experienced?

It's mostly pretty much like this, to be honest - nice people wanting to talk about the books. It's very civilised!

The first time I met people who'd dressed up as characters was good - I've met a few Hester's and Shrikes now. And sometimes there's someone whom something in the books has really touched , something they've found very personally helpful or moving - that's lovely, but I'm never sure what to say - people bring their own stuff to the books often.

Thing is, if you've read the books a couple of times in the last few years, you probably know them much better than I do! I've been off writing new things, I haven't exactly forgotten M.E., but the details are starting to get hazy, the way you start to forget a house you once lived in - some things are very vivid, others just kind of go...

A very simple question: Shrike VS Grike: Do you know what happened? Why the Americans decided his name simply had to be changed?

Yes! Apparently there's a character called The Shrike in some SF books by Dan Simmons. (Oh, thank you, Jenny Haniver!). I'd never heard of them - I got it from the bird - and there's no copyright in names - it's like The Master in Dr who and The Master in Buffy I guess - but the US publisher was worried about it and asked me to change it, and since time was very short and I was busy with serious real- stuff at the time I just went 'Brike? Crike? Drike? Frike? GRIKE, that'll do.' I always wished afterwards I'd put up more of a fight because it's led to endless confusion, but hey ho.

(He was called Shreck originally, I guess that would have been worse.) I think I heard something about the Shrek film coming out and changed it for that reason - I can't remember.

(He was named after Max Shreck, the actor who played Nosferatu in the Murnau film.) oh, Murnau, that came in useful, too...

Note: I will update this article on the Shrike / Grike discussion with this FAB intel

The scene in Infernal Devices when Oenone goes to the chapel where the lines from Eliot's Little Gidding are carved into the wall has always been a favorite of mine; it has remained vividly in my mind ever since I first read it. What made you choose those particular lines from that particular poem for the scene and for Oenone's code words?

I was in Canterbury for some event around the time PG came old, and I wandered into the cathedral, and those lines were on a little etched glass panel on the wall. I didn't know where they were from, but I found them incredibly moving (and still do).

My son had not long been born at that time, and I'd just come through quite a serious illness, so life and death etc were much on my mind, in a more serious way than they had been when I wrote the earlier books. 

So I wanted to use them, but they were too long for an airship name, so they became the code that reprogrammed Shrike - I thought they were quite unlikely lines to quote in the middle of a huge sci-fi action sequence, which of course made them appeal even more!

Is there any music (specific songs, artists, or albums) that inspired, or you associate with, the Mortal Engines books?

Well, there are loads of song titles which become airship names, but I don't think they were running round my head while I was writing - if I had any music in mind it was more likely something orchestral - Wagner, Beethoven, something huge and German.

With other books the association has been much stronger. Here Lies Arthur has this kind of scuffed, stripped-down language that was partly inspired by Tom Waits.

And when I was starting Fever Crumb and trying to decide what made my Elizabethan-level post apocalyptic London different from just plain Elizabethan London I thought of the weird electronic howl which opens David Bowie's Diamond Dogs, and he became the presiding god of that city (hence the pub names)

Who would you say influenced your drawing style? Are there any particular artists you enjoy and have tried to emulate?

When I was about 13 I discovered Brian Froud (who went on to design Labyrinth and The Dark Crystal) and also Alan Lee (who designed LOTR) and they were my heroes for the next few years, I loved Froud's stuff particularly. But I quickly found lots of other illustrators - there was a bit of a fad then for large paperback books collecting the works of SF and fantasy illustrators, I had quite a library of them. 

And, as with writing, you nick bits from one and bits from another, and slowly your own style emerges - later on I discovered 'real' artists, too - the Pre-Raphaelites, the Symbolists, Picasso - But most of my published illustration work is humorous stuff and cartoons, I doubt you can see much of any of them in it!

Is pineapple on pizza good, or bad? Is blue cheese good, or bad?

Pineapple on pizza is OK, though not my favourite. And blue cheese too - a bit of Stilton goes down all right. Pineapple is best cold and pizza is best hot, so it's an uneasy alliance. Flavourwise it works, it's the temperature thing that's a problem.

Do you think any other cities survived the 60 min war in the USE. Like raft cities on the west coats?



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.

I think I just invented the 'Dead Continent' idea because I didn't want to have to deal with Traction Chicago, Traction New York etc - it would have made the book too big. But as the series progressed, yes, it's not an idea that makes much sense - it's clearly a Traction Era myth, ripe for overturning.

It's been a pleasure! Thanks for having me.

What age are Tom and Hester in Mortal Engines?

tom and hester drawing
In the original Mortal Engines book, we first meet young Tom Natsworthy when he is 15 years of age. He was made an orphan in the events of The Big Tilt where a tier of London broke and crushed his parents. Tom could be described as a scrawny thin boy but handsome none-the-less.

Spoilers follow!

Spoilers follow!

Hester is about the same age as Tom. In the flash back parts of the novel where Thaddeus Valentine is revealed to have murdered her parents, she is seven years old.

Bevis Pod and Katherine Valentine are also teenagers but as far as we can tell, their exact ages are not mentioned in the novel.

By the time of the Predator's Gold sequel begins, Tom and Hester have aged two years.

At the beginning of Infernal Devices Tom and Hester have been married 16 years and have a daughter, Wren of about the same age. This means that Tom and Hester are about 33 years old. We don't know how soon they were married after the events of Predator's Gold but presume it was as soon as Tom was recovered enough from his gun shot wound and discovery he was about to be a dad.

By the time Tom and Hester each both die at the end of A Darkling Plain, they are close to 34, if not already that age.

How old are Hester and Tom in the Mortal Engines movie?

We have no firm details but given the characters are being played by Hera Hilmar and Rob Sheehan born who each were born in 1988 (making them each 29 ish) it's unlikely they are playing 15 year olds. Stranger things have happened in television and movies though as quite famously Gabrielle Carteris was aged 29 when she played 16 year old Andrea Zuckerman in Beverly Hills 90210!

Monday, July 24, 2017

Wonderful ME concept art design of The Professor, Fang and Ms H Shaw

This is some fabulous concept design / fan art inspired by Mortal Engines. The artist is simply known as 'Brooke'.

They said of their work:

"My final submission for my concept art class, character assignment. 3 characters -each representing a different body type- from The Mortal Engines novel by Philip Reeve. My favourite by far to design was Anna Fang, though I did love attempting to recreate Hester’s scar. "

Here's a more regal design of Anna Fang by the same artist.

anna fang concept design

Hester Shaw cosplay photo collection

Those who've read the books know that Hester Shaw has a sense of mystique and mystery about the character. Sometimes her actions speak louder than words and wreak havoc but deep down, Hester is a good person. So many readers find her irresistible as an inspiration for cosplay.

OK, maybe it's just the bad ass scar that the cosplayers love...

hester shaw cosplay scar tissue

hester costume with scarf

hester's scar from mortal engines

hesters facial scar costume

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Check out this awesome Shrike pencil sketch

We found this incredible pencil sketch of Shrike from Mortal Engines.

There's been many an attempt to draw Shrike (or Grike if you're an American reader) over the years, some good, some bad but this is the first one that I feel actually captures some humanity about the character.

pencil sketch of the Shrike from mortal engines

As a reader of Mortal Engines, you'll know of course that Shrike was indeed once a man who was turned into an un-dead killing machine and has spent years being the murderous tool of horrible people. Underneath all that, was a heart looking for a home and I think this drawing did a great job.

In the movie, Shrike is played by Stephen Lang.

We found this picture on a Facebook page and have no idea who drew this. If you do, please let us know in the comments.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Nice words from Aaron 'Gench' Jackson about the ME set

Aaron Jackson Mortal Engines set chair name title

Here's what Kiwi actor had to say in his Facebook page about his time on the Mortal Engines set:

"Wrapping on set today. Such a sweet experience. Took a lot away with me this shoot. All involved where world class. Everyone brought their A game. 'Gench' is my characters name on the movie, #mortalengines (release date Dec 2K18) it was the back rest on my set chair for the shoot. PJ (Peter Jackson) likes to give it to the cast on their last day on set. 🙌🏼. An experience I'll hold onto for quite some time. My love and thanks to all involved "

The character of Gench is a ruthless pilot on Thaddeus Valentine's ship, the 13th Floor Elevator

We love that Jackson played current All Blacks captain Keiran Reed in the NZ movie "The Kick"!

Caren Pistorius is playing Pandora Shaw in Mortal Engines

caren pistorius mortal engines pandora

IMDB suggests that Kiwi actress Caren Pistorius is playing Pandora Shaw.
A body double, Danielle Parsons, has been listed for the character as played by Caren:

In the Mortal Engines novel, Pandora is an archeologist who discovers the Medusa weapon which opens the metaphorical Pandora's Box which leads to the events of the book. 

Caren has quietly been making a name for herself as an actress having landed some key roles in Slow West and The Light Between Oceans with Magneto himself, Michael Fassbender.  

Here's a comprehensive interview with Caren about her role in Slow West.

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Jihae releases small short of her training as Anna Fang

jihae training for anna fang

Jihae probably has the coolest part in Mortal Engines as the Anti Traction League Aviatrix known as Anna Fang. 

This is a role that's knee deep in the action and requires some sword play skills so here's Jihae training with Mark Trotter.

Jihae posted this on her Instagram Account where you can watch the short filming.

"I had the privilege to work w Mark Trotter 8x #worldchampion of #taekwondo for #mortalengines The twin butterfly knives didn't make it into the film but was fun choreography. #marktrotter #jihae"

mark trotter training with jihae mortal engines

Regé-Jean Page is playing Captain Khora in Mortal Engines

Captain Khora Mortal Engines Rege Page

Mortal Engines author Philip Reeve has confirmed that actor Regé-Jean Page is playing the character of Captain Khora.  Khora is master and commander of the gunship Mokele Mbembe.

In the novel, Khora is a minor Anti-Tractionist character that encounters Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw.

Reeves has suggested that he may have a bigger role to play in the movie, and indeed so will Jihae's Anna Fang. 

Reeve confirmed this news in an article he wrote on his blog.

Pages' IMDB bio describes himself as thus:

Regé-Jean Page is a British-Zimbabwean actor whose upbringing saw him travel across Africa, Europe, the US, and the UK before he finally settled in London.

An alum of the National Youth Theatre and trained at the infamous Drama Centre London, Regé is best known for Roots (2016), Survivor (2015), and Waterloo Rd (2006).

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Regé-Jean Page's Mortal Engines wrap up gift is awesome

Regé-Jean Page is playing a wee part in the Mortal Engines movie and as a gift from the production for the wrap up of the movie, Regé-Jeanwas given a fantastic gift - a signed copy of Mortal Engines by author Philip Reeve.

rege jean mortal engines signed book

Reeve's was clearly impressed with Page's work! Page is actually playing Captain Khora.

And follow up question - did they really make Philip Reeve sign 3000 copies of his book?

Monday, July 17, 2017

'Salvage Man 2' Richard Mills shares his thoughts on filming the Mortal Engines movie

Richard Mills has crept under our Radar a bit with the filming of Mortal Engines.

His character name at this stage on IMDB is "Salvage Man 2" which suggests a small part but none-the-less it is awesome a Kiwi (by way of Wales) gets to have some on screen time in the Christian Rivers directed film.

Here's what Mills had to say with the announcement that the film has wrapped principal photography.

"That's a wrap. Principal photography on the film I've been lucky enough to be working on has wrapped, so unless I'm needed for pick-up scenes, that's my journey completed with Mortal Engines.

I've been so lucky to enjoy 29 full days on set (plus wardrobe fitting days), meet some great new friends, learn so much about the process of making a big budget feature film, meet some of the world's top actors and be part of a Sir Peter Jackson movie project. AWESOME!"

Mills most recently seen in the remake of the Kiwi film, Goodbye Pork Pie as a Police Officer.

Mortal Engines is a wrap - check out the crew pictures that reveal some details

Reports are in that the Mortal Engines filming has wrapped up.

Robert Sheehan and Hera Hilmar have filmed their parts and the rest is up to Christian Rivers and Peter Jackson's production skills to make this movie as good as possible.

Here's a sweet pix which some cheeky party crashers managed to get with The Sheeb (as the internet calls him) at the wrap party.

Only some 500 odd days until the release of the movie in two Decembers. Which means plenty of time to get all that CGI locked in. I just can't wait to see what those giant cities and Hester looks like!

No word yet on whether re-shoots will be required, we imagine so!

Actor Richard Mills said on his Facebook page:

"That's a wrap. Principal photography on the film I've been lucky enough to be working on has wrapped, so unless I'm needed for pick-up scenes, that's my journey completed with Mortal Engines.

I've been so lucky to enjoy 29 full days on set (plus wardrobe fitting days), meet some great new friends, learn so much about the process of making a big budget feature film, meet some of the world's top actors and be part of a Sir Peter Jackson movie project. AWESOME!"

Some of the crew's swag is pretty cool - note the Mortal Engines symbols:

Here's some more pix we found of crew celebrating the end of the filming:

Nice to see New Zealand beers Moa and Tuatara  beer representing!

And finally this snap from Katie Jackon (Peter's daughter) with Ronan Rafferty.

Rona Rafferty Katie Jackson Mortal Engines

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Sarah Munn, Stunt Performer on Mortal Engines

Sarah Louise Munn Stunt Performer from Mortal Engines

Here's what Sarah Munn recently had to say of her time on the Mortal Engines set as a stunt performer!

"3 years ago I decided to take the plunge into the film universe after obtaining my honours degree in International Relations and PolSci, and although challenging and the nature of the business comes with it's ups and downs, it has been a passion-filled and intoxicating time and I've just wrapped on Mortal Engines as a stunt performer achieving one of my goals while working with the most amazing crews and people (mostly from New Zealand+other places).

The next is to double a lead actress on a project and to do some more action acting and get some producing in. Carpe Diem!🌅 #nzfilm #kiwisinla #film #mortalengines #newzealand. @bardot dress❤"

Sarah has studied at  Wellington's Toi Whakaari Drama School - the same acting school Mortal Engines  main actors such as Joel Tobeck, Nathaniel Lees and Frederick Hama have studied or taught.

Here's her skills on display:

Is that a cute LOTR clip on that scarf / cover all?

Follow Sarah on Instagram.

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

Philip Reeve's Q&A with the Mortal Engines Discord Server Crew

The Mortal Engines Discord is a group of keen Mortal Engines and Railhead book fans who gather together to share their love of the worlds that Reeve has created.

One bright spark had the idea to invite Reeve over for a Q&A interview which he graciously accepted. Here's some of the best bits that related directly to the Mortal Engines series.

Crow-caller and the crew did an excellent job of making sure they had awesome questions pre-planned and keeping the moderation flow in check.

Some of the replies may seem slightly disjointed as there may have been some discussion from other Discord members that shaped the response but were not part of the original question.

Which was your favourite book in the mortal engines quartet to write? Which one do you think is ‘best’? Is there any particular scene/part/character you enjoyed writing best?

I think my favourite to write was A Darkling Plain, because I sort of knew I could do it by then, and for once I had a pretty good idea what would happen at the end. But I think the best is Predator's Gold - I didn't think so while I was working on it, because it kept going wrong and multiple versions were binned, but I think the struggle kind of paid off. (I should add that that I haven't read any of the books since they went to print, so I'm going on my memories of them.)

I heard that Hester was intended to be a kind person with a gruff exterior in ME, but later became the person she is in the later books. What inspired this decision, and would you change anything about ME to reflect it?

I think when I was writing ME I was working on the assumption that Hester was basically a good person who just happened to look awful, and once Tom saw past that all would be well. Which is fine as far as the first book goes, I don't think I'd change that. But as the story expanded into the second book I thought more about her and realised she'd be damaged in ways which couldn't really be fixed.

And I quite enjoyed seeing how bad I could make her, while hopefully retaining our sympathy. She's my favourite character, I couldn't have written the three sequels without her.

Many books and movies end with typical happily ever after moments, however, each part of the Predator Cities quartet ends in loss. Mortal Engines ends by having an entire city going supernova, killing almost all the characters except Tom & Hester. Predator’s Gold ends by having Tom getting shot. Infernal Devices ends with Hester leaving Tom. A Darkling Plain ends with the death of Tom & Hester. Why didn’t you have typical happy endings for these books?

I didn't deliberately set out to have a down ending on all the books, and I hadn't realised I had till you mentioned it! (PG is quite 'up' I think - they arrive safely in the new world...) I generally try to balance any darkness and despair with some hope - these are kids books, after all, I didn't want to be too depressing. But I guess I didn't want endings where all problems were sorted and everyone lived happily ever after.

Well, clean cut endings can work! But the important thing is that the ending has to be right for the story, and the M.E. stories were too murky to have happy-ever-after endings. I do find that, as I get older, I prefer happier endings, though - I don't think I'd write those books in the same way now.

Something I’ve always appreciated about Mortal Engines, Fever Crumb (and Railhead) is the diversity present in the characters- LGBT relationships in Fever crumb and Railhead, as well as international/racially diverse casts. Time wise it seems you’ve had more diversity as you’ve gone on. Is there any particular ‘reason’ for this?

Re. the diversity question, that's not something I really think about consciously. I guess London in the first book is very white, at least on the upper tiers where Tom starts out, and part of the story is about him venturing out and meeting all sorts of other people & learning that they're not the barbarians he's been led to believe... And that process continues in the later books, as we travel to other parts of the world.

Re. Railhead, conscious in the sense that I was trying to imagine a 'good' future (no 60 minutes war here, just expansion across the galaxy, all watched over by machines of loving grace). So obviously racism & sexism & homophobia wouldn't be a thing any more, and I assume that demographically if you fast-forwarded the human race by a few thousand years you'd end up with mostly brown people, so I made that the default setting whenever I brought in a new character. I'm very glad it worked for you, Jack!

Fever's bisexuality simply came from me wanting to write about having a crush on someone - which was as close as I ever got to romance when I was a teenager- only Fever was too ratyional to nurse a hopeless crush on some young man, she'd just tell him. So I had her fall for Cluny, which was against her own 'rational' upbringing and the rules of Cluny's rather retro society. And that seemed to work.

Was there anything specific that inspired your idea for the traction cities/particular characters/the ME world in general? Like anything in your life or perhaps a character/world in other works that inspired you?

Yes, inspiration arrived from all sorts of places, but usually kind of indirectly. And usually once I'd rewritten it a few dozen times, it was changed beyond recognition anyway. So Valentine started out as the sort of boo, hiss villain Alan Rickman used to play in 80s movies, but gradually he developed a conscience and became a very different character.

Reeve's then posted this picture that inspired London:

Reeves then shared some more thoughts on Hester's origins and the inspirations for Anna Fang's character:

Thinking back 25 years... Hester started out as a character in a low budget movie I made - Deadly Ernest, mentioned way back up this thread - I had a friend who'd done one little movie for me and had a very beautiful face, and I thought what shall we do with her next - I know, we'll make her Lee Van Cleef.

So she became an enigmatic female gatling gun slinger in what I now realise was a sort of proto-steampunk story. And that character kind of bumbled on into the next thing I wrote, which was the 1st draft of Mortal Engines.

But I started thinking OK, she's living by wits in the badlands, she probably won't be all that beautiful - and the hero falling out of his city and into love with a BEAUTIFUL GURL isn't all that interesting - so maybe she should be ugly. And Hester kind of came from there. Anna Fang is basically Han Solo, but she's also Strider from LOTR, of course!

In your interview with The Sheehab (which I really enjoyed reading!) you mentioned that when you write, you know what world you want to explore and you just jump in from there, generating scenes and characters that you don't always end up using. Can you tell us about any of those unused scenes and characters?"

I guess in the course of all four Mortal Engines books anything that was any good got used. Usually when I cut a scene its because it slows things down or doesn't advance the story, or takes it in the wrong direction, so I try and fillet out any useful images or scraps of dialogue and use them elsewhere.

There was a whole abandoned novel after Mortal Engines, about a raft city (Brighton) escaping across the Atlantic from the Green Storm. I binned that, but the basic idea became Predator's Gold, and Brighton reappeared in ID, so it wasn't completely wasted. There are a bunch of Anna Fang back story bits which got bumped from book to book and never quite fitted in anywhere, but other than that I don't think there's anything readable lying around.

I'm sure you've heard this a lot, but what is the status of fever crumb four? do you think with the interest from the movie we might finally see it in print?'

No, I think FC4 is past resurrecting now. In so far as I had a plan, I was planning to end it with London getting on the move, and when I sensed that Id have trouble getting it published I made that happen in bk 3 instead, so 4 would have been an odd book even if I had written it... And I decided not to: I started doing my books with Sarah McIntyre instead, and then Railhead, both of which I've really enjoyed, so I think I want to keep moving forward. Plus, I think there's something quite nice about the Fever quartet being unfinished...


How is is Philip Reeve for joining in and giving such awesome responses to some keen questions from what are truly genuine fans!

Shrike Concept art by the very talented Peter Yea.

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Our 'A Darkling Plain' book review

review of a darkling plain by philip reeve

You'd think a guy running a Mortal Engines movie website would have read all the books before he began down such a path but we didn't so we're playing catch up.

After the great tale that was Infernal Devices I began to wonder how the damn tale was going to end.

How was everything going to come together? I had hopes as it seemed so well set up for a final climatic finish.

And then I accidentally read something online about the ending and I was a bit sad as it was one of the great book endings of all time.

But it's all about journey to the end right?

And what a journey right?!

This was the first Mortal Engines book to really amp the story to block buster / global levels and in doing so it lost a fair bit of the teenage angst (yes it's till there..) and got into the real deal of the piece:

Killing things.

You thought there was a lot of death in the prior books?

By Quirke does Philip Reeve have some news for you!


What I think I'm trying to convey is that the weight of the whole world the Reeve has created rests on the shoulders of this book and it is extremely well carried by Tom, Wren, Theo and even bad old Pennyroyal.

But I'll tell you about my first favourite moment.

The books starts with the tale of Theo who proved his worth in Infernal Devices. It's nice and all but it was a great distraction for the arrival of of a key character. A dark shadow of a figure comes out of the desert on some kind of sand boat with sails. It's a dark and menacing threat. As I reader I felt a sense of dread.

And then it turned out to be Hester who proved to be quite the murderous soul.

And I was like, yep, she's back. Like the original Terminator but meaner.

Get out the way Sarah Connor!

And now we discuss even more spoilers & things.

Got that?

My second favourite moment was when Anna Fang went off the reservation (as if she wasn't already) and turned the ODIN weapon on the good people of Earth.

It was gripping writing by Peter Reeve and page turn after page turn of excitement. This moment was an excellent pay off for all the ground work that had gone into setting up Stalker Fang.

Reeve's line of "There was nothing there but fire, the million mournful voices of the wind" was a chilling reflection of the destruction Fang had just caused.

It also reminded me of Arthur C Clarke's wonderful short story, 'The Nine Billion Names of God' - only in name, the story is completely different except for the fact we're dealing with the end of the world for so many people in each case...

And that just serves to highlight how far an author Reeve's had come by the time he did this fourth book in the Mortal Engines series. While you can argue it's 'same same but different', I felt Reeves was writing with a deliberate purpose.

I suspect that's because he had thought of an AMAZING ending and couldn't wait to get there himself but he just had to set things up just right for it to be of any long lasting effect of the story that he was concluding.

A question that is a total spoiler.

Ready player one?
Hester's suicide.

Did she hate herself that much?

While Tom and herself in many ways were star crossed lovers, she was no Juliet.

Why couldn't she live on for Wren? We know she kinda resented her a bit from her experiences in Infernal Devices but jeez Louise!

Game over man, game over. 

Professor Nimrod Penny Royal was a cliched pastiche of a fellow from the moment he met Tom and Hester in Predator's Gold.

In the end he played a heroic part - which was kinda clever as everything was set up nicely for a Shrike / Fang rematch so his intervention at the right moment was an enjoyable surprise.

I mean that in terms of the reading of the book, not for the character. No, he was a pain in everyone's ass and probably deserved to get a knife in the eye from Hester but he didn't. I suspect Reeve's is too a nice a guy to let that happen.

The book has the usual trials and tribulations that we would come to expect. The many twists and turns are well signaled and it was great to see choices made in Infernal Devices play out so well in this novel.

If you're a Mortal Engines fan, you've probably already read this book so I'm sure you'll agree that it's fine end to the series and I really, really hope that Reeves never even thinks of drafting a sequel as there are not many book endings that I will remember like that of this novel.

I've mentioned the last paragraph ending three times now. It's that good. A literary twist up there with the Fight Clubs of this world.

If you've read the first three in the series, this novel is the book that finishes what was started in Infernal Devices and we recommend you grab it from Amazon today.

Else, you really should start with the first novel, Mortal Engines. You'll fall in love with it from the first line...

Sunday, July 2, 2017

Frankie Adams is playing 'Yasmina Rashid'

frankie adams mortal engines yasmina

According to the completely trust worthy IMDB, Shortland Street star Frankie Adams is playing a character called 'Yashima'.

Keen readers of the Mortal Engines novel will know that this name in full as Yasmina Rashid of the Palmyrene privateer 'Zainab'.

We suspect this role will be fairly minor in the scheme of things but one that does get caught up in some fun involving Hester, Tom and the Shrike....

Update: Stephan Lang himself liked our article tweet about this so we can take it as read the name is correct. 

Oh, the feels in this Tom and Hester artwork

This is an amazing piece of Mortal Engines fan art work by Katya Bozukova who can be found at Over_the_cauldron_art.

It captures emotions you can ascribe to Tom and Hester so easily in terms of their relationship.

tom and hester art from Mortal Engines

Saturday, July 1, 2017

Amazing drawings of Hester Shaw

Some handy sketches and drawings of Hester Shaw from Mortal Engines. The imagination shown by the designers is incredible! It's quite clear that Hester is a fan favourite, her and of course Shrike!

hester shaw with knife pencil drawing

hester shaw sketch

graphic design of hester shaw

pencil drawing of hester's face

pastel hester shaw

hester shaw drawing designs

I must confess I neglected to keep track of who drew what. If you know, please sound out in the comments!