When in time is Mortal Engines set?

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

hester shaw concept art

How many years after the Sixty Minute War does 'Mortal Engines' take place?

Mortal Engines is set in a post-apocalyptic world, ravaged by the so called "Sixty Minute War", which caused massive geological upheaval and the destruction of humanity.

The earthquakes, volcanoes and other geographic instabilities that ravage the Earth destroyed it’s heritage, knowledge and just about every other reference point of history.

This means that the characters found in the Mortal Engines books no longer have an idea of what year it is, or for how long the Earth has been a desolate and desperate place.

The books reveal that many hundreds of generations have developed and much knowledge of the Sixty Minute War has failed to be passed on between. Most things about history and time have been forgotten.

Other than the Traction Cities, the world has had to start from scratch again.

Given the time it would take to forget everything and for time keeping to simply stop, the Mortal Engines book is set many thousands of years after the Sixty Minute War.

Philp Reeve’s ‘The Traction Codex’ has addressed the issue without giving definitive numbers:

“After the Ancients destroyed themselves in the Sixty Minute War, there were several thousand years in which nothing much happened. These were the Black Centuries. The great civilizations of the Screen Age had been utterly swept away, and humanity was reduced to a few scattered bands of savages’

In the end, it’s not the actual number of years that is wholly important. The key concept to understand is that sufficient numbers of years have passed the society that exists now has no connection to the past. It does not have a system of government (other than each Traction City being self-governed).

It does not have supermarkets that do home delivery and it does not have Google Fibre nor Star Wars.

None of these things exist.

So, we don’t think you would be wrong in estimating that Mortal Engines is set some 5000 – 10000 years after the war. Anything less than 5000 feels light due to the time needed for humanity to basically forget itself.


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