Phillip Reeve didn't believe it was Peter Jackson when he emailed to say Mortal Engines was finally happening!

Monday, October 15, 2018
phillip reeve peter jackson

Here's a great article with Phillip Reeve in Wired Magazine where Reeve reveals when he finally received contact from Peter Jackson confirming the movie was going ahead, he didn't believe it was really NZ's finest film maker!

Here's the tale:

Originally published in 2001, the film rights to Mortal Engines quickly started circulating the desks of Hollywood executives. Jackson eventually brought the option outright, though it would be over a decade after the book’s debut before the movie progressed any further. Then a year and a half ago Reeve received an email from the New Zealand director, announcing that production was underway.

“I was suspicious at first actually!” he says.

“Rumours about the project had slipped out a few years ago and from time to time people would pop up on Twitter asking me about whether Peter was adapting my book. Of course all I could say was ‘Oh I don’t suppose so’ and ‘you mustn’t believe everything you read on the internet haha’.

So when the email came through it occurred to me that maybe this wasn’t Peter at all but someone fishing for information."

The message was genuine and in May Reeve got the chance to watch some of the shoot in Wellington. The experience seemed unreal at times. "You’d see all these people going about creating these incredibly detailed sets and acting out something I’d made up in my head years ago. There was a scene I saw with a character called Anna Fang [played by South Korea-born singer Jihae]. She had this long red trench coat and jet black hair and was sitting in this rusty aviators bar; because everything else had all these muted earth tones the contrast made her really stand out. It was pretty much exactly how I’d originally pictured it, so when I saw it I thought, 'That’s me! I did that!’"

The aviator bar Reeves refers to is presumably the 'Gasbag and Gondola'.

There's plenty more in the article including Reeve's thoughts on ME's social commentary, and the revelation he has two alpacas!

I prefer the real Hester

Sunday, October 14, 2018
I prefer the real hester meme

With all the fans going crazy (right or wrong) over Hester's scar design in the movie, I thought I'd toss some petrol on to the fire...

Amir Zand's 'Ark' draft concept design for The Illustrated Mortal Engines

amir zand mortal engines


Artist Amir Zand has revealed to the world that he has done some work for the “The Illustrated world of Mortal Engines” which is being released next month to coincide with the Mortal Engines film release.

Zand said "A fantastic project that I’m so proud to be a part of. such an amazing universe with amazing people.

I thought to share one of my early sketches that i’ve made for one of the Mortal Engine's illustration a few months back, the reason that i share this is because that piece didnt make the cut and the final Illustration changed so much, so I’ve changed this early conception in to a futuristic theme, ships going through an Ark, so basically its not ME anymore, cant wait to show you all the pieces that I've made for this awesome project".

Looks like this city could have wandered out of Predator's Gold?

Close enough to ME to still be ME?

Order The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines from Amazon.




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 Christian Rivers is across two over on the right.

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'.

↠ What is the best order to read the Mortal Engines series of novels?

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What Star Wars film did you see first?

Was it The Phantom Menace or A New Hope? Did you follow the order they were released?

For the many it was Star Wars IV, V and IV in that order and then years later the prequels came out and we learned how Anakin became Darth Vader.

If you watch the prequels first you miss out on the epic twist that happens in Empire Strikes Back when you learn of Luke's true parentage.

And that's the issue with the reading order of the 7 Mortal Engine novels (8 counting the Anna Fang short stories book!).

We are talking about Stalker Shrike here and a couple of other plot point surprises.

If you read the prequel series you get the full story of Shrike and how he came to be the Shrike. As you read on to the original novels, there's no big mystery, no awe as you first encounter him with Tom, knives out wanting to do nothing but kill....HESTEERRR SHAWWWWW!

But if you've read the prequels, you know exactly who this abomination is before he even takes his first step towards Tom and that kind of ruins the mystique.

Think of the first time you saw the Star Wars scene when Vader boards the Tantive IV (Leia's ship). If you knew him as the whiny pod racing kid from The Phantom Menace, the effect of his entrance would not have been the same.

But, just as there is with Star Wars, there's a kind of cheat you can do which is similar to the popular Machete Order that some Star War fans recommend.

In terms of Star Wars, it's often suggested that you watch A New Hope and then Empire so that you can enjoy the twist. You can then read the prequels and get the full back story, and then hop back to Return of the Jedi and go from there.

And so you can with Mortal Engines.

Read that first novel first so that you get the main story, exposure to the concepts such as Municipal Darwinism and that you meet the Shrike.

You can then turn the pages of the prequels starting with Reeve's Fever Crumb and then on to A Web of Air and the most excellent Scrivener's Moon.

Once you've knocked those bastards off, you can read the three books that follow Mortal Engines. And they are damn good reads with A Darkling Plain proving an excellent and satisfying end to the saga.

But what do we know?

What is Philip Reeve's take on the reading order of his own novels?

He's actually been asked this before and he's on record as saying:

"It’s up to you, of course, but I’ve always thought they’re best read in the order they were written."

And despite what we have suggested, that's not a bad way to go.

Here's why.

The thing about Peter Reeve is he became a better author as he went on with the Mortal Engines series. As he progressed from one book to the next his stories seemed to flow better and form a more cognizant whole. I personally enjoyed the last two novels more when compared to the first. That said, those novels were 'standing on the shoulders of giants'.

But Reeve's also gives a hint of caution about the prequels:

"It’s a different setting in many ways – there are, for instance, no airships and no mobile cities.

I think the books have a slightly different tone, too – the heroes of the Mortal Engines quartet are always zooming across continents and oceans, but Fever Crumb’s adventures all take place in London or in the island city of Mayda, until Scrivener’s Moon, when Municipal Darwinism finally begins to take off and there is a certain amount of charging about on ramshackle motorised fortresses."

The choice, dear reader, is clearly yours. But when you've done that, it's time to move on to Railhead...

One perfect shot:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

A shot of Hester Shaw and her new boyfriend from the latest Mortal Engines trailer. Looks like the film will be worth it for the visual effects alone.

If you've read the books, this really captures so much of the 'feel' of them.

Any one smell an Oscar coming on for the Visual Effects team?

Nick Keller's Mortal Engines concept art designs

13th floor elevator concept art mortal engines

Concept art and design for the Mortal Engines film


Philip Reeve wrote the novel but it took a team of Kiwis to bring it to life for the silver screen. This featurette highlights the work that concept art Nick Keller of Weta Workshop, Wellington put into the design of Mortal Engines.

Is Nick the new Doug Chiang?

He's paid his dues having taken a turns at digital design for The Chronicles of Narnia’, ‘Under the Mountain’, ‘Avatar’, ‘Indiana Jones 4’, and ‘The Hobbit’ trilogy.

The design above is the '13th Floor Elevator' which is the ship of Historian and explorer, Thadeus Valentine. He's the protagonist of the film.

Have a look at some of Keller's featured work starting with the cockpit of the 13th Floor Elevator:

Cockpit of the 13th Floor Elevator art

 Traction City Tracks: Can you spy Hester and Tom?

hester and tom in london tracks concept art

You know how this turned out in the actual film:

hester tom london tracks

The Lions of London will eat you for lunch:

london lions mortal engines

nick keller design artist weta workshop

mortal engines concept design airhaven

hester shaw london concept art picture


If you want to see more of Nick Keller's work, check out his site.  Great to see the Mortal Engines crew (New Zealanders at that!) getting some broad exposure as a result of their hard work.

Now, if we could only see some drawings of Skrike....

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