Friday, April 7, 2017

How do traction cities work in Mortal Engines?

traction city concept art

First of all, let's not go all Star Wars nerd level in our analysis of how the traction engines of Mortal Engines work and carry their giant cities across the Earth.

Sure you can argue that the idea of traction cities actually roaming the Earth for 10,0000 years is as absurd as the subsequent theory of municipal darwinism, but we need to suspend our disbelief for a moment.

We need to accept that traction cities such as London work and they are giant beasts of machines kilometers wide that each carry complex societies that has its own 'world orders' that ensure those 'big wheels' keep on turning.

They will built after the 60 Minute War destroyed the Earth and made it a wasteland. The Cities were built so as to be able to move the surviving human populations to safer areas.

Traction Cities are giant metropolises that are built on tiers that rely on giant internal fuel based engines to move on gigantic wheels or caterpillar tracks.

'Hungry' Cities such as London have populations of millions whereas some are small villages and hamlets propelled by small engines or even sails.

These cities such as London, hunt smaller cities (in order to tear them apart for resources and fuel) which in turn hunt towns which in turn hunt villages and static settlements.

How does the societal structure of London work?

The city of London models itself on a kind of Victorian-era society.

London's society is divided into four major and a number of minor Guilds.

The Engineers are responsible for maintaining the machines necessary for the survival of London, many of which are found by the Guild of Historians. The Historians are in charge of collecting and preserving highly prized, often dangerous artifacts - young Tom Natsworthy was an apprentice historian.

The Navigators are responsible for steering and plotting the course of London. The Merchants are in charge of running London's economy. London is officially ruled by an elected whom at the time of the original novel is the hardly magnanimous Magnus Crome, who is also the head of the Guild of Engineers.

Atop the whole of London sits St Paul's Cathedral. It is the only building known to have survived the Sixty Minute War and proves a central plot point in the movie.

How do traction cities catch their prey?

Most cities have attachments called "Jaws" to catch their prey and drag them into the Gut. The 'Great Under Tier' in London consist of hangars and harvesting districts where the captured prey is dismantled and looted for as much resource as possible.

It is described by Tom Natsworthy as "A stinking sprawl of factories and furnaces between the jaws and control room". The inhabitants of captured cities are integrated into the population of the predator city, or, in less ethical cities, taken as slaves and made to work.

To capture a city, the bigger city will usually have to chase the prey. They increase the speed of the engines and chase. They aim to do it as fast as possible so that fuel expenditure is kept to a minimum.


  1. LOLLL "We need to accept that traction cities such as London work"? LOLL Yes, let us not question. The Nerdist Left has spoken and we must obey LOL How does something as ludicrous as the premise of this movie compel anyone to suspend disbelief?? What's hilarious is that there's no theory even offered as to how this mangled manga mutant city could have been mounted up like that in the first place. It's sort of like how atheists like to talk about evolution of life, but can't even explain how life began as "abiogenesis" in the first place, only someone that dumb could go along with this movie's concept LOLL