Making the Mortal Engines Movie

News, views, quotes and trivia about Philip Reeve's 'Mortal Engines' books and the Peter Jackson movie production.

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Friday, March 31, 2017

What are Stalkers and the Shrike in Mortal Engines?

The Shrike concept art from Mortal Engines

What are the Stalker Soldiers in Mortal Engines?


The Stalkers of Mortal Engines are a kind of 'universal soldier' combatant that can be programmed for warfare and assassination. Stalkers and their variations play various parts in each of Philip Reeve's Quartet of Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.

What is the origins of the Stalkers?


Stalkers originally were designed as mechanisms for humans to transfer their consciousness from one body to another, thus defeating death. The human mind could literally be saved to hard drive and then transferred into the body of another human.

It was post the 60 Minute War that the technology was adapted to make Stalkers into emotionless monsters to serve at the whim of their masters.

Often referred to as 'Resurrected Men' Stalkers were originally were built by the Nomadic Empires that battled each other across the volcano maze of what was once Europe long before the Traction Cities Era began.

The Nomadic Empires built Stalkers by recovering dead bodies from the battlefields, placing them in laboratories and then bringing them back 'life' by using 'Old Tech' machines that were physically connected to the dead body's nervous system. This practiced continued on unto the Traction City Era.

The bodies were also operated on to internal organs that were no longer necessary. The designers also would graft on a metal carapace to the body. Weapons could be implanted into the body and the use of claws was a common feature.

The best subjects were taller specimens and they looked a scary site with their glowing green eyes that all Stalkers had.

Stalkers are generally considered emotionless automatons, only acting at the will of their Masters. Once a dead human is resurrected as a Stalker, they have no feelings, display no emotions and they will not have any memory of who they were before they died. Any past memories are jumbled messes and lost glimpses of their former life.

In Mortal Engines, the City of London manufactures its own Stalkers. The London Guild of Engineers builds new Stalkers from dead prison convicts at their experimental prison in the Deep Gut. These particular Stalkers are not considered as refined as the infamous 'Shrike' due to use of less sophisticated stalker-brains, the devices used in the brains and nerves of Stalkers.

What is the Shrike in Mortal Engines?


The 'Shrike' was the first Stalker to be mentioned in the Mortal Engines book. His character was under the control of the Mayor of London Traction City, Magnus Chrome. Chrome used the Shrike to find Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy and he was ordered to kill them.

At face level this seemed a straight forward plot point however it was later revealed that The Shrike had once looked after Hester in a past life. Due to his emotionally retarded state, his own goal in life was turn Hester into a Stalker as well, so they could live together forever.

In terms of memory retention, Shrike appears to be the exception to the rule as was able to recall his past life as 'Kit Solent' shortly before his death at the hands of Tom Natsworthy by sword.

Are Stalkers invulnerable?


Stalkers are heavily protected their armour and but invulnerable to small arms fire and hand-held weaponry.

Due to their 'programming' they do not feel any pain as their nervous systems are rendered. This means they are pretty handy in hand to hand combat as even if their opponent is able to stab them or cause injury, they will not feel it and be able to continue to fight and thus increasing their chances of winning.

In Mortal Engines, Tom Natsworthy did manage to kill The Shrike Stalker with a sword by impaling it through his neck. The Shrike was suffering from some performance issues as he's actually been run over by a Traction City!

Anna Fang as a Stalker


In Mortal Engines, Ana Fang was Tom and Hester's rescuer from the the Shrike when he originally caught up with them. Fang was ultimately killed by the dastardly Thaddeus Valentine. In Predator's Gold is was revealed that a splinter group of the famed Anti Traction League called Green Storm had recovered Fang's body and applied the Stalker Resurrection techniques to it.

Green Storm had intended that the revived Anna Fang would lead them in battle against the remaining Traction Cities. Eventually her resurrected Fang stalker would take part in many battles and features in Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.

Extra for Experts:
  • Stalkers are sometimes referred to as 'Jaegers'
  • All Stalkers have green glowing eyes
  • Stalker tech can be used on animals such as birds and even whales
  • In some American versions of Mortal Engines Shrike is named 'Grike'.
  • Shrike is named after the bird of the same name.
  • It was revealed by Philip Reeve that Shrike is actually the narrator of the Mortal Engines books.

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