A brief history of Municipal Darwinism by Deputy Head Historian Chudleigh Pomeroy

Sunday, December 31, 2017
chudleigh pomery mortal engines

A BRIEF HISTORY OF MUNICIPAL DARWINISM By Deputy Head Historian Chudleigh Pomeroy

 
(Re-published by kind permission of the Guild of Historians.)

1: The World After The War


After the Ancients destroyed themselves in the Sixty Minute War, there were several thousand years when Nothing Much Happened.  These were the Black Centuries.  Mankind was reduced to a few thousand individuals; scattered bands of savages who hid in cellars and caverns to escape the plague-winds and the poisoned rain, and survived on the canned goods they managed to dig up from the ruins of their ancestors' great cities.  It was a savage age, when life was cheap, and most people would happily have sold their own children for a tin of rice pudding.

Even when the ash-clouds thinned and the sun returned, bringing new growth to the scorched earth, humanity was still beset by famines, pestilence and other types of unpleasantness.  Vast upheavals and rearrangements of the Earth's surface were underway.  Whether these were due to the lingering effects of the mighty weapons which the Ancients had used in their war, or were merely a natural process, we cannot know.  

What is certain is that mighty new mountain ranges arose (the Shan Guo uplands, the Deccan Volcano Maze and the Tannhauser Mountains being the prime examples).  At around this time, among other great changes, some violent storm or convulsion in the planet's crust caused the western edges of the island called 'Britain' or 'Uk' to sink beneath the Atlantic, while the North Sea drained away entirely, leaving Britain attached by a land-bridge to the rest of Europe.  (This was one day to have great consequences for a miserable, ruinous city called London, which clung on, barely inhabited, to a place beside the muddy river Thames.)

http://amzn.to/2C5A4eh

2:  New Shoots From The Ashes


Life in the Black Centuries was difficult, disagreeable and generally pretty short, and it would be many thousands of years before anyone had the time or inclination to set about building a new civilization.  In most parts of the world, all knowledge of the past had been swept away, and human beings lived little better than animals.  Indeed, some were not truly human at all, for lingering poisons from the war had caused mutant off-shoots of humanity to arise; chief among them the warlike Scriven and the sinister Nightwights.  (Not only that, but a race of semi-intelligent gulls haunted the Atlantic coastlines, and in the north herds of mammoth-like 'hairyphants' once more roamed the tundra!)

In Africa, however, where the plague-bombs and orbit-to-earth atomics had not fallen so thickly, a certain amount of learning had been preserved, and it was here that the first flowers of civilisation began to bloom afresh.  The so-called 'Spring Cultures' of Zagwa, Ogbomosho and the Tibesti Caliphate eventually grew into great trading cultures whose merchants and missionaries helped to restore civilisation to the rest of the world.  As millennium followed millennium new societies arose in Europe and South America, as well as in the remnants of India and China and among the Thousand Islands of the Pacific.  Some fell by the wayside, and we know little of them now beyond their names - the Raffia Hat civilisation, the Ash Boundary Culture, the Slate Bowl People.  Others, like the great culture of Shan Guo and the Mountain Kingdoms, have endured into modern times.


guild of engineers mortal engines


3: Of Nomad Empires and the Dawn Of Traction


In none of these new societies did anyone attempt to match the technological achievements of the Ancients.  Most, indeed, prohibited science and the building of complex machines, which they blamed for the disaster of the Sixty Minute War.  Some, such as the Zagwans, persecuted anyone who tried to preserve scientific knowledge, and destroyed whatever vestiges of the Ancient World they could find.  We can only guess at the loss to historians which such vandalism has caused!

In the northern part of Europe, however, certain remnants of the old world were revered, as we can see in those so-called machine-shrines where, in the depths of the Black Centuries, people prayed and made sacrifices to the battered computer-brains, toasters and automatic drinks dispensers they had found among the rubble of Ancient settlements.  Slowly, cultures arose which did not just worship the old machines, but tried to make them work again.  

The Blue Metal Culture, the Electric Empire with their earthenware batteries and strange electro-magnetic helixes, and the mysterious Pyramid Builders of the High Arctic were among them, but all were eventually swept away by natural disasters (the frequent Ice Ages of the period 10,000 to 3,000 BT), or by the rise of the Nomad Empires, rowdy hordes of barbarians who used whatever technologies they could find or steal in their endless wars with one another.  

They built armies of 'Stalkers' or 'Resurrected Men', and their mobile battle-platforms and 'traction fortresses' have been seen as the fore-runners of the Traction Cities we live upon today. One of these Nomad Empires was the Scriven, a mutant race from the high north, famous for their speckled skin and spectacular cruelty.  As their numbers dwindled and the climate grew cooler they were gradually driven south and east out of their old strongholds in Siberia and found their way at last to London, a squalid trading-post in eastern UK.  

They conquered it easily, and ruled it for almost two hundred years.  They were eccentric and tyrannical, yet under their rule London began to thrive again.  Merchants and scholars were drawn to the city by the relics from the Ancient world which scavengers dug up in great quantities from the soil around it, and vast advances in knowledge and technological prowess were made.  

The Scriven even set up the Order of Engineers, a fore-runner of our present-day Guild of Engineers, to study and re-use the things they found.  But the Scriven line was growing weak, and eventually, they were overthrown in their turn during a bloody rebellion led by the self-styled 'Skinners Guilds'.  There then followed a brief period of independence for the city, before new nomad conquerors swept in from the north.  These new arrivals called themselves the Movement, and their arrival marks the beginning of a new age; the Traction Era.  For they were led by the genius who would transform our city, the immortal First Helmsman Nikolas Quirke.

When the notion of Traction Cities first came to him, none now can say.  Some legends that as a young man travelling aboard his nomad Traction Fortress he was visited by a dream in which he saw an entire city moving across the face of the earth.  Others claim that the idea had first been conceived by the last of London's Scriven rulers, Auric Godshawk, and that Quirke merely inherited it, but few people nowadays believe that.  Whatever the origin of the plan, Londoners soon came to see its wisdom - especially when it was pointed out to them that a mobile London need not just flee its enemies; it could conquer them, and use their raw materials to make itself larger, stronger and faster-moving!

Over the following few years the city was torn down and rebuilt in the form of a gigantic vehicle, based on the linked and extended chassis of the Movement's Traction Fortresses.  These were dangerous times, for while all Quirke's energy and resources were employed in the rebuilding of the city his nomad rivals in the north hatched plots and alliances to overthrow him and take the city's riches for their own.  The most serious of these crises was the Northern War, in which many rival bands of nomads joined together and drove south to attack London with Stalkers, armoured mammoths and their own traction fortresses.  But Quirke's genius defeated and obliterated them, and London moved north to devour their former strongholds.

Today's Londoners would scarcely recognise the city on which their ancestors first set forth.  Far smaller than modern London, it rolled on wheels instead of tracks, it had no jaws yet, and its three tiers were protected with armour and ringed with cannon and catapults.  It looked more like a giant-sized version of the nomads traction fortresses than a city.  But in the hundred years that followed it was to eat most of the richer settlements in UK, and the raw materials it took from them were used to expand the base-plate, construct the first tracks and add a further four tiers were added to the city, bringing the total to the seven on which Londoners live today.  

Also at this time we see the beginnings of the Guild system, with the groups responsible for each aspect of London's movements clubbing together to protect their own interests and educate their children in their own fields of expertise.  

All the Guilds met together in council to decide on the city's future course and likely meals.  

The Navigators who were responsible for steering it, and the Merchants who helped fund it quickly came to dominate the council.  

Historians, while lacking political power, were greatly respected, for they had already begun to create the London Museum, one of the greatest centres of learning about the past since the fall of the Ancient world, and the means by which many Old-Tech devices have been rediscovered, and restored to every day use.

(It is interesting to note that London's engineers had very little power at that time.  Despite the fact that it was their skills which kept London moving, they were divided into small groups; the Designers, Axle-Strengtheners, Wheelwrights, Cog-Cutters, Power-Teams, Duct-Managers etc, etc. 

It would still be several more centuries before they achieved the dominion over London affairs which they presently enjoy.

traction cities concpet art
 

4: The 'Traction Boom'


As London increased its size and speed, and started to look hungrily at larger settlements on the far side of the old North Sea, other cities began to copy its lead, either in order to escape London's jaws, or in the hope of emulating its success.

  At first Londoners were indignant at what they saw as this poaching of their great idea.  But Quirke-ite thinkers it thus.  The Great Quirke, they said, has brought about a new phase of history.  From this time on all civilised people will wish to live aboard towns which move.  Those that are strong and swift will eat up those which are slow and weak.  And in this way the affairs of men will come into harmony with the natural world, where the fittest survive.  The theories of the Ancient philosopher Chas Darwin had recently been re-discovered in the library of one of the towns London had eaten, and the new system was quickly labelled Municipal Darwinism.

  There then followed the period known to vulgar people as the 'Traction Boom', during which cities and settlements of every size were compelled to 'go mobile', or to face being eaten up by others which had.  Some added tracks like London's, other experimented with inflatable wheels, systems of rails, or even, in the case of the short-lived Pogo-city of Borsanski Novi, some large springs.  Others, meanwhile, rebuilt themselves as rafts and took to the seas.  Some, like Airhaven and Kipperhawk, became airborne, taking advantage of developments in aviation.  Even the mountains can now be gnawed asunder by specialised mining towns in search of ore.  Even the icy polar wastes are traversed by cities, and the floors of the oceans have become the hunting grounds of submarine towns like Pacifica.  

Can it be long before Airhaven is joined in the sky by hunting cities, perhaps ones capable of ascending to the very fringes of space?  

The Ancients, as anyone who has looked up at the night sky will know, built homes and observatories in orbit.  It is not inconceivable that cities may one day evolve to hunt there, too.  Like life, our cities adapt to exploit every environment.

As Municipal Darwinism spread, the static cultures soon began to wither away.  Today they survive only in mountainous regions, such as Shan Guo, where the warrior-monk Batmunkh founded his Anti-Traction League.  In Africa the degraded remnants of the Spring Cultures still protect their heartlands against mobile towns, but even with the League's help their territories grow smaller every year.  Despite such League atrocities as the sinking of Marseilles, most people believe firmly that moving cities are the future, and that Municipal Darwinism will triumph.  Indeed, most city people nowadays imagine that it is barbarous and even unhealthy to set foot upon the bare earth.  In years to come, the only thing left of the old way of life will be a few precious relics, preserved in places like our London Museum.


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This was a wonderful early essay written by Philip Reeve which gives a bit of further insight into the world of Mortal Engines. It is written from the point of view of Chudleigh Pomery, a character from the first Mortal Engines novel. 

It's probably not considered canon but serves as a fair idea of how giant traction cities came to roam the globe!

Pomery is played by veteran British actor Colin Salmon.

If you want to learn more about the stories that happened during the times the essay refers, check out Reeve's prequel series which starts with the novel Fever Crumb.

This work used to be on Reeve's own site but was found at The Way Back Machine. All rights, Mr Reeve.

Show me the money, Mr Jackson!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017
An article was published today on Stuff which explains how Mortal Engines film production qualifies for a bit of a hand out from the NZ government.

NZ gives a hand out to attract film productions to take advantage of the economic benefits.

It seems odd that ME gets it given Peter Jackson is going to only ever work in NZ as the production money is coming anyway.

There was a bit of a stoush over the production of The Hobbit and the status of contractors being classed as employees a few years ago and the American companies threatened to take it away from NZ and they simply outplayed the Government.

NE ways that's just some local history, the reason we mention the article is that it featured a great picture of Christian Rivers and Peter Jackson and producer Fran Walsh appearing to be at the start of a ceremonial welcome for the movie.

They look to be in Mirimar, Wellington so I'm going to suggest this is Stone Street where the film was shot.

christian rivers peter jackson mortal engines

IV with Philip Reeve about Mortal Engines

Monday, December 18, 2017
traction city of london

Robert Sheehan Fan Club site, The Sheehab has managed to score an interview with the writer of Mortal Engines, the fantastic Mr Philip Reeve. 


This interview gives two insights - some of the behind the scenes stuff for the movie (though minimal) but it also highlights the warmth and sincerity that is a clear part of Mr Reeve.

I'd love to have a cup of tea with him!

Here's some key parts from the interview which relate to the movie and Reeve's thoughts.

Which are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?


I was shown some of the concept art a while back, and there’s all sorts of stuff I can’t wait to see.

Apart from the huge things, like the cities and the Shield wall, I’m looking forward to seeing what the airship Jenny Haniver looks like - it becomes the nearest thing the main characters have to a home once their adventures begin, so I spent a lot of time aboard it in my imagination.

Will Tom’s age be advanced for the film to match Robert’s or will Robert will be made to look younger, closer to Tom’s?


You mustn’t take anything I say about the movie as gospel truth, because I’m not directly involved with it, but I think movie-Tom will be older than book-Tom.

That’s fine by me, because when I first wrote Mortal Engines, Tom was in his early twenties, and I only made him a teenager when I realised I could publish it as a children’s book.

It actually makes very little difference to the character, because London is a rather old-fashioned society where young men have to do as they’re told and respect their elders and betters.

Did you ever imagine a dream cast and are you pleased with the casting choices?


I sometimes toyed with a fantasy cast while I was writing, but that was so long ago that most of the actors I had in mind have grown too old or even died by now!

But I think one of the things that Peter Jackson and his team are really good at is casting - the Lord of the Rings movies are full of actors who I’d never have thought of putting in those roles, but who turn out to be just right - so I’m confident they’ll find the right people.

I’m very pleased with all the actors who’ve been announced so far, and looking forward to learning who else will be involved.

What was your first reaction when you knew that your book would be produced by Peter Jackson?


A massive YAY!

It was unbelievable, really. And then nothing happened for years and years, so I had to assume that it wasn’t going ahead, and I sort of forgot about it and got busy doing other things.

Then about a year ago I heard the movie was finally going into production, and people in New Zealand were going to be busy building all these things I’d dreamed up twenty years ago. It still feels quite unreal. I won’t fully believe it until I can see it at the cinema, and perhaps not even then.

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We love that because Jackson option the novels so long ago that Reeves kind of just moved on and then one day boom! the movie is in production, indeed now in post.

Image by the talented Rebecca Wright.

Mortal Engines trailer revealed at last! (officially)

Saturday, December 16, 2017
mortal engines movie logo

For some, Stanley Kubrick's 2001 A Space Odyssey is one of the greatest science fiction moments in history*.

For others, it's when the first Mortal Engines novel was published by Phillip Reeve which means some keen readers have been waiting some 17 years in a wishful kind of hope for a movie to be made.

And now, first teaser trailer of the Mortal Engines movie has been leaked. We had Peter Jackson release concept art, production team photos and the odd official Philip Reeve set visit.

It's actually amazing there has been no leaks by the cast, extras accidental or otherwise

But. Now. Here. It. Is.



Salthook being towered over by London




How cool was that?

Christian Rivers is clearly hitting this one out of the Hunting Grounds! First of all let's talk about scope.

Did you see the size of that thing?

That's no moon, it's the giant mechanical city of London!

Here's a we detail - the time on the clock is nearly midday - it really should be afternoon to reflect the famous opening line of the novel.

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

The town being just is called Salthook and it looks zippy and cool!

We also see Hester Shaw. 


So Christian and Peter didn't have the balls to stay true to the character. We get that, being Hollywood and all. We wonder what her psyche will be like then?

Pretty sure that's Anna Fang actress Jihae singing too!

* The truth is it's Star Wars but who are we to argue with such greatness?

london city captures salthook
A captured Salthook city


-

A wee grizzle, Peter Jackson announced the trailer would debut with Star Wars - it did not which meant keen fans were quite disappointed when they went to The Last Jedi and got the Black Panther trailer ... (it was quite good but still...). While Peter was technically correct with his words, perhaps a date would have avoided any confusion and disappointment.

Also, Mortal Engines is nothing like Mad Max!

What is the Traction Codex?

Sunday, December 10, 2017

You might have discovered that Philip Reeve's The Traction Codex is getting a re-release in 2018, quite handily timed with the first Mortal Engines movie, it will be formally known as An Illustrated Guide to the World of Mortal Engines.

Reeve's stated on Twitter in response to a question about the Codex's availability outside of UK Amazons:



But, what is The Traction Codex? 


In Reeve's own words:

"It’s a sort of encyclopaedia/history of the World of Mortal Engines, featuring all those things you Always Wanted To Know But Could Never Be Bothered To Ask, like, how did Airhaven get airborne?

Why do the cities use heavier-than-air fighters while the Green Storm stick to airships? 

Who was Red Loki? etc, etc. 

We’ve also added some details which never made it into the books, like the alarming sport of ‘Traktionturnieren‘ or civic jousting…"

‘Traktionturnieren' in Mortal Engines


Jeremy Levett, has confirmed to us via Twitter that he has again collaborated with Reeve on the new expanded release called the Illustrated World of Mortal Engines. He said "It's much bigger, longer, more comprehensive and has been enormous fun to write. Especially the Australian cities..." I hope there's a Shrimp on the Barbie joke somewhere... >> Levett did a Reddit AMA about his work with Reeve.

If you want to have a peek at The Traction Codex right now, go and grab your battered copy of Infernal Devices or any of the others. At the end are a few sample subjects which reveal traction city use of Bumper Stickers that say things like "How's our Hunting", the prior mentioned sport of Traktionturnieren and a handy explanation of the origins of the concept of Municipal Darwinism.

The airships in the top picture above are Reeve's thoughts as to what they might look like. Match the number below to the number on each ship. What do you think of the Jenny Hanniver?

1. Green Storm Air Destroyer
2. Twin-envelope ‘sky cat’
3. The 13th Floor Elevator
4. Spice Freighter from the Thousand Islands
5. Murasaki Fox Spirit
6. Cruiser of the Anti-Traction League
7. The Jenny Haniver
8. ‘Goddess’ class passenger liner
9. Serapis Moonshadow
10. Spudbury Sunbeam
11. Experimental rocket-assisted Zhang Chen Hawkmoth Mk VI, firing its boosters on an attack run.
12. Heavier-than-air fighter, as used by the freelance air-forces of the Traction War.
13. Zhang-Chen Hawkmoth

Menik Gooneratne is playing Sathya in Mortal Engines

Menik Gooneratne from Mortal Engines movie as Sathya

We've learned that Menik Gooneratne is playing the character of Sathya in the Christian Rivers director Mortal Engines movie. Sathya is a friend of Anna Fang's.

Gooneratne last appeared on the silver screen in the well received  Dev Patel film, Lion.

Like a couple of Kiwis in Mortal Engines who took a turn on Shortland Street (Joel Tobeck), Menik has done the same Australian route by way of Neighbours.  You know, where Kylie Minogue and Jason Donovan made their names...

Follow Menik on Twitter

A Mortal Engines teaser trailer is on its way. SOON. Like The Last Jedi SOON.

Saturday, December 2, 2017

Update: Peter Jackson has confirmed the news.

An eagle eyed fan has discovered that Canada's Consumer Protection BC unit has approved the release of a Mortal Engines movie teaser trailer.

This is a surprise to be sure, but a welcome one.

Consumer Protection BC is a Canadian government entity and a key role is "Classifying all motion pictures exhibited in BC".

If you're a true blue Star Wars fan you will know two things right now.

You will have noted the Star Wars quote above from Emperor Palpatine and you'll also know that The Last Jedi is released in less that two weeks!

We're thus of a firm view that the Mortal Engines teaser will be shown during screenings of The Last Jedi.

Which kind of makes sense - Universal Pictures will be going in large on this Peter Jackson produced movie so a great way to get the hype train going as fast as a railhead can go is to get in in front of as many people as possible and the new Star Wars movie will serve that need!

Here's the proof:

mortal engines teaser trailer

Approved means approval to release to the Canadian public so we can reasonably expect that similar arrangements are happening across the globe.

Art credit: KAEK

"P. P. Bellman, author of atheistic pop-up books for the trendy toddler?"

Friday, November 24, 2017

I came across this extremely thoughtful review or consideration of Mortal Engines by Max at What Conspiracy? and felt I should share part of it.

After taking us thorough a quick tour of academic snobism (is that a word?), a pass over of Harry Potter and an examination of Phillip Pullman of Northern Lights fame, he solves the meaning of a line that amused me no end:

"Philip Bellman with his series of atheistic pop-up books for the underfives"

That's what Max wrote anyway.

The correct quote from Infernal Devices is "..and wasn’t that the great P. P. Bellman, author of atheistic pop- up books for the trendy toddler??"

Which itself is a reference to the novels of Pullman. His trilogy can been described as the antidote to the Christian beat that C.S. Lewis framed the Chronicles of Narnia with - hence the reference to atheism in Infernal Devices.

Indeed, Reeve has included many cultural references in his novels.

This paragraph is possibly the best description of Mortal Engines as a series that I've ever come across:

"Reeve is still a damn fine writer. Mortal Engines is set in a future where thousands of years of squabbling over the ruins of a war shattered earth has culminated in a stand off between mobile cities and stationary communities. 

Now the physics and logistics of such a vision don't bear serious examination for a second, but Reeve is able to write fast enough that a reader doesn't quibble. 

He's also able to write characters with enough appeal that you're far busier wondering what's going to happen to them than you are picking away at the sustainability of "Municipal Darwinism", the bonkers post-thatcherite philosophy which drives the traction cities in their quest to scavenge smaller cities and fight with bigger ones. 

A few weeks after I've finished reading the books, I'm coming around to the notion that once you dig into the logic of his books, he's essentially marketing the same dumb notion of sustainable pastoral nirvana as Tolkien did, but that doesn't stop me from admiring the books he's written while smoking that weed."

I'm pleased someone else had picked up on the notion that municipal darwinism was indeed bonkers as the environment in which Mortal Engines is set would have meant that every city would have been eaten up a thousand years ago. But why quibble when it's a great device on which to propel the story?

Max also captures the character and fan favourite Hester Shaw quite well and fully appreciates the role reversal that Reeve puts on her and Katherine Valentine:

"In conventional fiction, Hester would die early, delivering a plot lesson along the way and be replaced by someone cute. In Reeve's world, Hester lasts all the way through four books, and gets meaner and unhappier the further she goes. Her one saving grace is her love for Tom. Meanwhile the cute girl who he's been lined up with in conventional narrative terms gets shot to bits in the first book."

He also makes a key point about character death:

"Reeve is cavalier with characters. If they get in harm's way, they get killed. If Reeve has spent huge energy bringing them to life, that's just too bad. The third book begins with a perfect case in point. 

A character who's been painstakingly nursed through the second book returns in the third as a key mover and shaker. Just when you've decided that he's going to be the villain of the piece, he takes a bullet through the head in the course of a theft turned hostage taking which is so elegantly set up as a plausible bungle that I was rapt with admiration as a focal character is dragged off in a submarine with nothing to be done about it.

Snatching her was the last thing anyone wanted to do, and by a simple set of bad calls (the most important of which was Hester's entirely in-character decision to kill everyone in sight) becomes the only possible outcome. Marvellous stuff."

A very insightful review indeed!

Concept design of Airhaven from Mortal Engines book series by Eleth89

Richard Armitage nearly had a Mortal Engines acting gig

Wednesday, November 15, 2017
richard armitage

In an interview with Den of Geek about his role in Ocean's Eight, Richard 'Oakenshield' Armitage noted that he almost had a part in Christian River's Mortal Engines.

He said:

"I was very close to working with Peter and Philippa Boyens and Fran Walsh this year on Christian Rivers' latest movie, but I couldn't quite make it work, because of 'Berlin Station'.

And what is Berlin Station

It's the television show Armitage is starring in that features him as a CIA agent.

The three time The Hobbit actor also said:

"But I know that I'll work with them again in the future and I'll be back in New Zealand at some point, so 'The Hobbit' has left such a legacy with me, that it's sort of a little beating heart that I'll always be grateful for."

Which is all nice and polite eh?

We wonder what role he could have been up for? Shrike perhaps? Maybe even a perhaps older Tom Natsworthy? A smaller role?

Why is there no hype for the Mortal Engines movie?

Friday, November 3, 2017

traction city tracks


All aboard the Mortal Engines hype train?


EDIT: The Mortal Engines trailer is finally out!

You might recall the day when Peter Jackson announced to the world that his new film project was a film called Mortal Engines based on a book of the same name.

This was kind of a big deal as when Mr Jackson speaks, the world listens.

And when Jackson released some concept art of Hester Shaw staring into the distance at a giant traction city the picture when around the world so fast.

And since then, nothing from the Oscar winner.

Sure, when the film wrapped up the crew let lose with a few insights (carefully permitted by the production, we're sure).

But other than that, the only person flying the flag that has a direct connection to the film, is Philip Reeve, the author of the book and the three prequels and three sequels! To be fair, Stephan Lang has chipped in a bit!

So why has there been no real hype for the movie to date?

Well, for a start the release date is not until December 2018. That's a whole other 14 odd months away. So given that Mortal Engines is a new movie "IP" (Intellectual Property) there's not already a built in fan base waiting another sequel such as they might for a new Avengers film or say The Last Jedi. 

Sure, there's a book fan base that's staunch and true but it just doesn't have the critical mass for the movie to be in the public consciousness such as Star Wars or Star Trek does.

So what Jackson and the producers and film distributors will likely do is sit back until next year (once both  The Last Jedi and Han Solo films have been and gone this December and next year!)  and patiently wait until the timing is right to release the first trailer.

That first trailer will be CRUCIAL because ME is a new IP. Purely by virtue of being a Peter Jackson produced film, that trailer will get a MASSIVE push and Jackson's name will be used a lot.

It will be the hook on which the whole movie will then be based on leading to what will likely be a huge budget film promotion.

But to make the trailer, the special effects need to be done. Keen observers might have noted that the entire movie appears to have been filmed in the sound stages that Jackson has built up in Mirimar, Wellington. I've seen no reports of any other filming around NZ. Sure there may be some second unit filming of some mountain passages across NZ (or recycled / unused captures from Hobbit and LOTR productions?) but given the nature of the film, no trailer is going to released until there's enough CGI effects in place for the trailer to be released.

Where as film franchises led by Marvel and DC often release teaser trailers to built hype, I suspect that given the need for the hook to truly snag movie goers, that a trailer of several minutes length will be released.

I'd be surprised if we heard even a peep from Christian Rivers or Peter Jackson until then. 

We did get trailer which showed Hester Shaw with two eyes. Quelle Horreur!

Until then, go give the book a second read!


hester scar from mortal engines

Peter Jackson registered a company called 'Squeaky Wheels' in 2008!

Wednesday, November 1, 2017
mortal engines whale in the library

What is the production company "Squeaky Wheels"?


A short while ago we speculated that the filming or 'working' title of Mortal Engines was "Squeaky Wheels'. This was due to the email address used as part of the call for auditions.

You know how sometimes you can't see the forest for the trees?

Peter Jackson incorporated a company called 'Squeaky Wheels Limited' with the New Zealand Companies Office in 2008!

This kind of makes sense as we'd heard Jackson brought the rights from Philip Reeve to make his Mortal Engines feature film about a decade ago.

The reason for the delay in production was probably several for several reasons. Jackson and Christian Rivers had been developing a remake of The Dambusters movie (indeed Stephen Fry had a crack at a script). There was also the saga of the Hobbit production which was delayed due to Hollywood politics.

That meant Guillermo del Toro had to drop out of directing the first Hobbit movie. At that time there were two intend movies to be made. Jackson picked up the mantle and eventually directed the three Hobbit movies.

So we can be pretty sure the working title of Mortal Engines is indeed Squeaky Wheels. Pretty obvious when you look in the right place!

Any ways, back to my little discovery.

Squeaky Wheels Limited is a limited liability company which is wholly owned by WINGNUT FILMS PRODUCTIONS LIMITED. This company is of course owned by Peter and Fran Jackson. If you were wondering about the name Micheal Stephens being listed as a director and shareholder, you should know that he is the Jackson's lawyer.

I presume the idea here then is that the company is used to produce the movie and that if any thing goes wrong (earthquake destroys Wellington, debts are not repaid, Jackson is sued for non-performance of a contract etc) the liability is only that of the formed company and does not extended to Wingnut Films Production. It would actually seem that Jackson has this mode of operation as a standard practice as I found companies that go back as far back as The Frighteners!

It would seem this a sensible commercial arrangement and one I'm sure happens a lot in Hollywood - indeed I think for The Force Awakens movie, JJ Abrams created Foodles - which was actually fined by the British Court due to its involvement in Harrison Ford's foots injury - which was a workplace safety issue.

Of further interest, Christian Rivers incorporated RIVS Films Limited a month after the Mortal Engines project was announced.

All this is pretty standard and no big deal. Actually the most interesting thing I discovered that Peter Jackson's middle name is Robert!

Update:

There is also another company associated with the film called Hungry City Limited.

As far as I can tell film makers like concept designers were employed directly by this company. This makes sense as company director Brett Thornquest appears to be some kind of tax specialist. So this is probably the 'money' side of the production.

How to get the new audiobook of Mortal Engines free!

Tuesday, October 31, 2017
Philip Reeve has announced to the world that actor Barnaby Edwards has redone the audio for Mortal Engines and that it's now available for download at Audible, Amazon's narrated book service!

You might know Barnday as a Dalek from Doctor Who?

The best news is that if you are a first time user of Audible you can download the novel for free!

That's right, if you've never read the book or want to listen to it on your commute, Barnaby Edwards has you covered!

If you're very new to the world of Mortal Engines, the first novel by Phillip Reeve is the place to start the tale:

'Emerging from its hiding place in the hills, the great Traction City is chasing a terrified little town across the wastelands.

Soon, London will feed.

In the attack, Tom Natsworthy is flung from the speeding city with a murderous scar-faced girl. They must run for their lives through the wreckage - and face a terrifying new weapon that threatens the future of the world.'

And so begins one of the greatest science fiction tales told.

A perfect book for Young Adults, but like Harry Potter, this book has an appeal to adults of all ages, if you need some encouragement, check out our book review.

When you sign up for Audible you actually get your first two ebooks for free! Which means you can also get the Predator's Gold sequel! Have at it by checking out the below add, because 'movement is life'!



Hester Shaw fan art - she's all killer and no filler

Wednesday, October 25, 2017
hester shaw fan art

Cherry_draws posted this great fan art sketch of Hester Shaw as they were inspired by a reading of Mortal Engines.

Some thing about that right eye is quite disturbing and really captures some of that 'intent' Hester has before she goes off and kills a few people...

Reeve announces 'Station Zero' as new Railhead novel

Tuesday, October 10, 2017
The cover and name of the third and final novel in Philip Reeve's Railhead series has been revealed as:

Station Zero


Here's the cover by artist Ian McQue:

station zero railhead cover art

Reeve said while praising McQue's work:

"'When I was reading science fiction novels as a young teenager one of the things which drew me to them was the covers, which tended to feature colossal multi-coloured spaceships and exotic planetscapes by artists like Chris Foss and Peter Jones. 

The modern-day equivalent of those illustration giants is Ian McQue, a concept artist for movies and computer games and also the creator of a wonderful body of personal work featuring shifty-looking characters, wild landscapes and rusty airborne boats (check out his Twitter or Instagram accounts)."

Station Zero will have a May 2018 release date. Order from Amazon.  

Shrike concept design as imagined in A Darkling Plain

Saturday, October 7, 2017
If you're ever read A Darkling Plain, you're appreciate this fan art from thatfigures of the Shrike:

sketch of shrike from A Darkling Plain

This picture represents one of the greatest endings to a novel I've ever had the joy of reading!

I also found this second sketch of the Shrike being discovered by the same artist:

shrike foun din a cave - darkling plain

David Buisan's Mortal Engines Spanish cover version artwork - Máquinas Mortales

Here's the incredible artwork by David Buisan that he designed for the Spanish language version of Mortal Engines:

spanish cover of mortal engines - Máquinas Mortales

Buisan's cover of Máquinas Mortales


Without the title getting in the way, one can truly appreciate that it really does convey what happens in the novel. Too often book covers have a cool picture that doesn't rally related to the words inside.

My only quibble would be I think Philip Reeve said in one of the chats he did on Discord that it was Hester's right eye that was disfigured...

Buisan has also designed the cover for Predator's Gold as El oro del depredador and Inventos Infernales, the third novel in the book series. We await the release of A Darkling Plain.







darkling plain spanish cover

Hera Hilmar imagined as Hester Shaw

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Here's a great photoshop effort of Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw


hera hilmar imagined as hester shaw

We truly hope that Christain Rivers and Peter Jackson go all in on the disfigurement of Hester as it really is an outward embodiment of her inward psyche.

Found on Reddit!

Reeve announces ME Quartet to be released in Spanish

Monday, September 18, 2017

Just in time for the increased interest in Mortal Engines due to the December 2018 release of the movie, Phillip Reeve has let it be known that all 4 books of the Quartet will be released in the Spanish language.

The first and second novels ME and Predators Gold have already been translated and Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain are to get the treatment as well.

Here's the official word from Phillip Reeve:

El Oro del Depredador spanish cover"I sometimes get asked by Spanish readers about translations of the Mortal Engines books - the first two have been out of print in Spanish for years, and Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain never made it *into* print. Well, Maquinas Mortales is out this month, and El Oro del Depredador coming soon.

They're published by Alfaguara, who will be doing the third and fourth volumes in due course too. Covers by David Buisan."

It's a good move by Reeve's publisher as there's 500 million of Spanish speakers around the globe who might be interested in reading on of the greatest adventures ever put to paper ! 

Artist David Buisan has designed the new covers (above and below) and will presumably do the other two novels as well.

Book One is available now on Amazon  and El Oro del Depredador is released in November.


Gideon Crumb: What's in a name?

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
gideon crumb mortal engines harry potter

For Mortal Engines fans the name 'Gideon Crumb' refers to the good Doctor Gideon Crumb, Crumb being the father of Fever Crumb, the titular character of the first prequel novel to the Mortal Engines quartet written by Philip Reeve.

However, for Harry Potter fans, Gideon Crumb will always be the rock'n'rolling wizard who was front man / bag pipe player for the The Weird Sisters. You can check out their groove in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire.

Update: The next two paragraphs are wrong. Pls check the correction below.

It would appear then Phillip Reeves borrowed the name for his novel as a nod to the Harry Potter series. Reeve fills his novels with many references to popular culture so it makes sense he would do such a thing.

Given The Goblet of Fire was published in 2005 and Fever Crumb in 2009, the timing certainly fits in that Reeve would have had enough time to read Rowling's work and then be inspired to include the name in his drafting of Fever Crumb.

Update: Philip Reeve kindly stepped by on twitter to shoot down this theory! (Not for the first time either!)


To which I perhaps impolitely replied with a DAMMIT!
And then we learned Reeve's real inspiration:

So Gideon was not named for a minor Harry Potter character but rather one of the fathers of paleontology!

Thanks for the insight Philip!

And that's all I have to say other than, 'you're a wizard, Harry!'.

Airhaven art design

Monday, September 11, 2017
airhaven concept design!


Concept design of Airhaven from Mortal Engines book series by Eleth89. We can only wait until we see how this looks in the movie. The Gasbag and Gondola awaits us!

Calum Gittens is playing the Chief Navigator of London

Sunday, September 3, 2017
calum gittens mortal engines
Kiwi actor Calum Gittens has a role in Mortal Engines as the 'Chief Navigator'.

We presume Chief Navigator refers to a job piloting London Traction City.

Gittens is the son of popular New Zealand actor Paul Gittens and a fairlywell-knownn scriptwriter called Phillipa Boyens.

That name should ring a bell....

Gittens made a name for himself on the Kiwi soap opera Shortland Street and a few parts in LOTR (He features as the young lad on The Wall in The Two Towers) and The Hobbit.

Another notable screen credit was a turn in The King's Speech.

Doctor Twix is being played by Sarah Peirse

doctor twix mortal engines


Kiwi actress, Sarah Peirse is playing Dr Twik in the Mortal Engines film.


Peirse has had a very long association with Peter Jackson productions, going back to Heavenly Creatures in which she played the ill fated mother. She's had a few parts in the Hobbit trilogy.

She's actually had a pretty decent go of a career as an actress having made a name for herself in Vincent Ward's The Navigator and having played many roles on stage and on NZ and Australian TV shows.

In Mortal Engines Dr Twix is a scientist in the Guild of Engineers that is responsible for the reanimation of stalkers / turning humans into stalkers and keeping an eye of Shrike.

She's faithful to the Mayor of London, Magnus Chrome.

We imagine this is the first time Sarah has been cast after a character named for a chocolate bar!

sarah pierse is playing doctor twix

Peter Jackson with the Mortal Engines second unit crew

Monday, August 28, 2017
Here's a nice picture of Mortal Engines film producer Peter Jackson with the 2nd unit film crew:

second unit group photo from Mortal Engines

The group probably features some of these people listed as being with the second unit on IMBD:

Harry Ashby...third assistant director
Sarah Bicknell...second unit: Second Assistant Director
Del Chatterton...DPR/Radio PA
Carolynne Cunningham...first assistant director
Ant Davies...on set / second second assistant director
Bruno Du Bois...key second assistant director
Simon English...third assistant director

'I see London' - Calum Gillie's drawing of London Traction City is simply wonderful

London City drawing by Callum Gillies
Here's a wonderful drawing of London City that I found on reddit by artist Calum Gillies.
Calum's fantastic drawing can actually be purchased as a print from his website. We strongly suggest you check it out as he has produced some pretty awesome Mortal Engines artwork.

You can also follow Calum's work on his Facebook page - there's some pretty cool video footage which shows just how much effort goes into doing this kind of work.

London city sketch by Jake Davies

Simple but awesome sketch of London by Jake Davies, inspired by his reading of Mortal Engines to his daughter.

sketch of London Traction City

It's a nice contrast to this version of London!

London's Lower Tier Concept Art by Jack Reeves

Here's some more of London City by our new favourite concept designer, Jack Reeves.

He said of his work  "Massively unfinished but after a bunch of versions its starting to irritate me so leaving it here for now. Carrying on with mortal engines with the lower tier of the city!"

london city concept art mortal engines

Jack Reeve's did an update of this concept work!

What does Stanisław Lem have to do with Mortal Engines?

Thursday, August 24, 2017
stanislem law's book mortal engines
When I was searching for information about Philip Reeve's novel Mortal Engines, I kept coming across a book of the same name by Stannislaw Lem.

I generally ignored it until the other night I was thinking about the Steven Soderbergh, film version of Solaris and I realised that the author of the book that the movie was inspired by, was the same as the other Mortal Engines book.

It turns out that Lem's book Mortal Engines is a collection of his works that is also known as Fables for Robots.

The context of the stories is the the fables are from the point of view of a universe populated by robots.

And therein gives rise to the book title and the use of the words from Shakespeare's Othello from which Reeve was inspired to use for his first novel:

"And O you mortal engines whose rude throats / Th'immortal Jove's dread clamors counterfeit..."

Law's book title uses a double meaning in the context the engines are literally the robots and describing the finite nature of humans of whom the tales are told - much the same how Reeve's also uses the double meaning of the mortality of humans and the giant traction engines cities.

10 questions about the Mortal Engines film...

Wednesday, August 23, 2017
mortal engines giant traction city

Just some random questions about what may happen in the Mortal Engines film... book spoilers involved below....
  1. Will Anna Fang have red teeth? Answer >> Nope
  2. Will 'The Turd Tanks' chapter be covered in great detail? >> Yes! sets were made and filmed on
  3. Will Katherine Valentine's wolf Dog feature? >> nope. That dog is dog gone.
  4. How toned down will the look of Hester Shaw's facial scarring be? Will she be blind in one eye? Edit - trailer suggests Hester Has Two Eyes. Resolved, see below.
  5. How bad will Valentine's beard be? >> Hugo Weaving does not sport one, but his hair looks FAB.
  6. Will there be a flash back to the 60 Minute War? (We doubt it but would love to see it!)
  7. Will there be a post credits scene? (We reckon some Shrike action would be cool). 
  8. How will it set up the sequel? Will it do so at all? We think they should skip Predator's Gold and go straight to filming Infernal Devices... follow up question - is Sophie Cox signed up for any sequels given, you know what happens in A Darkling Plain?
  9. Will Hester be as brutal and willing to kill as the book portrays?
  10. Did Peter Jackson really steal a whale?
Concept art by Jack Reeves.

hester's movie scar


Jack Reeves' London City concept art is F.A.B.

Tuesday, August 22, 2017
mortal engines london city design

Designer Jack Reeves has made two most excellent versions of his vision of what the traction city of London could look like.

London Concept Design

We love how St Paul's looms large over the city. Movement is Life!

Follow Jack Reeve's on Instagram & he's got some wicked designs at his website.


Mortal Engines, a second time around review

Monday, August 21, 2017
mortal engines cover illustrated by ian mcque


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 www.mortalenginesmovie.com  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.

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