Friday, May 18, 2018

'A Web of Air' - Book Review

a web of air book cover

What has become of Fever Crumb?

So after I read the delightful Fever Crumb novel, I just HAD TO KEEP going to find out what further adventures would befall our young Engineer, Fever in the sequel A Web of Air.

I mostly wanted to find out what happened to Ruan and Fern, the children of Kit Solent who became the legendary heartbroken killing machine that became Shrike.

The tale begins with a play being presented which slowly reveals the current state of play for Fever.

If you recall the ending of the titular novel, she stepped onto a boat and sailed away. She's now part of that boat's crew who are actors, thespians and good souls who have adopted Fever, Fern and Ruan (what a great name for a law firm eh?) into their theatrical troupe.

Fever does the lights for the stage production by applying her electrical engineering skills.

Author Philip Reeve quite deftly weaves in a little backstory from the first novel and sets up the play and cast of characters.

But what is the summary play?

We have talking birds.

A boy whose family was killed by the ocean.

A charming visitor from London (who we are calling right now as a double agent)

A mysterious watcher in the woods...

And then it gets pretty dull and drawn out, a near-death experience that possibly cannot be so,   though I must all this is all alongside a clever reinvention of the classic idea that evil corporations like to kill people who invent water fueled motor engines.

I'm not one of these rabid fans that will defend their love with a blind eye, I gotta admit, I was getting a bit bored and then S*N*A*C*K*S*I*E* >> Reeve finally pulled some good old Mortal Engines magic out of his quill and we are game on with a slight twist which sets the rest of the story up for a fast past narrative that does the name Philip Reeve, author of A Darkling Plan, justice.

The story builds well but frankly it's pretty low level when compared to the mighty vistas that Reeve has previously carved up with. Angels come home to roost in unexpected ways as Fever and the mysterious Arlo see to their adventure to its conclusion.

While tightly written, overall I was was disappointed with the story's final stakes.

Some take outs:

  • We loved how we learn what the name 'Jenny Hanniver' really means.
  • Having now read A Web of Air, we are are quite excited about Jeremy Levett's AMA where he hints that a character from this novel will turn up in Night Flights.
  • We enjoyed Crumb's strong dislike of religion being used as a story plot and then turned on it's head by the character to achieve a goal - which showed strong character growth.
  • Order A Web of Air from Amazon or Book Depository (which has free shipping!)

We're going to be alright

Hester Shaw often let her actions speak louder than words in the Mortal Engines series, though she sometimes spelled things out with a typewriter.

She did however give Tom Natsworthy a rather good pep talk:

you're not a hero - hester shaw

The talented artist is Amy Bradford and posted this great quote to Instagram with her version of Hester. Check out her other work, she's got some sweet ideas.

The line was a nice bit of foreshadowing by author Philip Reeve too....

Sunday, May 6, 2018

London gets a Premiere for Mortal Engines

hester shaw

London's calling for Mortal Engines.

The Peter Jackson produced, Christian Rivers directed film about giant traction cities that roam a scorched Earth will get a premiere in London on 11 December 2018.

The movie itself opens on December 14th.

Just in time for the Christmas movie crush - Bumble Bee, Spider Man, Mary Poppins Returns and Aquaman all have releases at that time.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Nice Blade Runner shirt, Christian

Mortal Engines director Christian Reeves was spotted out and about with some friends and colleagues - of interest is his shirt - it's the advertising for the Tyrell Company from the classic Blade Runner films. I say classic because the new one was incredible!

christian rivers mortal engines

If Peter Jackson is not directing Mortal Engines, who is?

Christian Rivers' cameo in Lord of the Rings

Who is directing Mortal Engines?

The short answer is Christian Rivers.

But who is he and why does Peter Jackson think him worthy of directing his production?

Christian first met Peter Jackson when he was just 17 years old and first worked for him on Jackson's splatter comedy, Braindead as a story board artist (it was re-titled to 'Dead Alive!' for American film viewers).

christian rivers director Rivers started out as a storyboard artist and became very involved with visual effects supervision, special effects technician. 

He won an Oscar for his visual effect achievements on King Kong. 

Rivers was  eventually announced as the helm of Jackson's remake of classic war film, The Dambusters.

This project was sidelined (possibly due to the production demand of The Hobbit series and the delays associated with it) and Rivers then actually acted as second unit director on the Hobbit trilogy of films. 

Proving his worth, he was given the opportunity of a life time to direct a big budget movie, Mortal Engines.

Fun fact: Christian had a cameo as an armored soldier in Lord of the Rings, that's him above. Also did a turn as a soldier driving a truck in King Kong. We speculate that he will cameo again in Mortal Engines!

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

The eyes have it - Hester Shaw confirmed with two eyes and a scar at Cinemacon

Peter Jackson sent a bit of Mortal Engines footage to Cinemacon where it was shown to some key people, including Eric Vespe.

One can totally trust the opinions and reporting of Eric, he's been in the movie journalism business for many years.

And he has confirmed that the footage he saw showed Hester Shaw with two eyes and a scar.

Fans have been a bit nervous about this with most wanting the novel version of Hester.

In the novels, Hester is horribly disfigured due to a run in with a sword which left her blind in one eye. This was a deliberate action by Philip Reeve to turn the classic 'boy meets girl tale' on its head.

Instead, Peter Jackson and Christian Rivers went the 'Hollywood route' for the character.  Money of course talks in Hollywood. Casual views might not be sold on a grotesque Hester....

Some fans will be greatly disappointed but at least it sounds like there's a good scar for the character.

Here's Vespe's description of the scar:

Great to see @AMblaushild asking the right questions!

It does sound from other reports out the Cinemacon that Mortal Engines looks pretty amazing.

But some people were not impressed:

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Calvin and Hobbes do Mortal Engines by @ZugMichael

This was too good to not share. Artist Zug Nut has shared on Twitter his version of cartoon legends, Calvin and Hobbes masqerading as Shrike and Hester riding (flying?!) the Jenny Hanniver:

calvin and hobbes cartoon as mortal engines

We love how it's a play on the original cover of the first Mortal Engines novel and gosh, is that the first time in history that Shrike actually has a smile?

And because I'm a bit of a Star Wars nut, I'm also sharing Zug Nut's interpretation of Flash Gordon himself as an X-Wing pilot. Flash Gordon being a massive influence on George Lucas and Star Wars:

flashgordon as xwing pilot

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

Station Zero is officially published today.

Phillip Reeve has posted that Station Zero is officially published today:

station zero cover by philip reeve - ian mcque

Station Zero is the third book in the Railhead serious. It is a separate and distinct series of novels from Mortal Engines!

Reeve said of his latest work:

"While I was writing it, Station Zero felt like a huge book, but it’s actually a few pages shorter than Black Light Express.

I guess it must just be very tightly packed, because there’s certainly a lot going on. Black Light Express ended with the Network Empire divided between the powerful Prell and Noon families, a new K-gate linking the interstellar railway system to previously unimagined worlds and their previously unimagined alien inhabitants, and our hero Zen Starling finally rich and safe.

Station Zero explores the fallout from all that, and of course the first job was to make Zen dissatisfied with his new-found life of luxury. Within a chapter or two he’s off on his adventures again. This time they lead him to the windswept plains of Klef, where Noon corporate marines are fighting a raggedy war against the dinosauroid Kraitt, to a moist sort of moon called Petrichor where an AI may be hiding a virtual Heaven, and to Station Zero itself, the world at the heart of the network, where the mysterious Railmaker first began its work of linking the galaxy’s habitable worlds."

Here's the official blurb:

"The stunning conclusion to the acclaimed and prizewinning Railhead trilogy.

What happens after the adventure of a lifetime? For Zen, it's a safe, comfortable life of luxury. But it's not what Zen wants. He misses the thrill of riding the rails, of dodging danger, and of breathing the air of different planets.

Most of all of course he misses Nova - lost to him forever in a distant world. But then one day a mysterious message arrives - and that's all Zen needs to head right off, ready for anything. Except that no one could be ready for what he finds . . .

Thrilling, thought-provoking, and breathtaking, this finale to the Railhead trilogy weaves a web of wonder, full of characters and events you will never forget?"

You can order Station Zero from Amazon.

Friday, April 13, 2018

Steam Punk Hester Shaw Cosplay

hester shaw cosplay mortal engines movie

keeley_wheelz did some sweet #hestershaw "cosplay for a very special birthday party. The theme was 'your favourite book character' so who else would I choose!?"

Those steam punk googles look very fetching and yep, she looks like she knows how to swing a type writer....

If you want to see more Hester Shaw cosplay, hit the links, including this very special scarred version of Hester.

Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Mortal Engines production keeping Wellington afloat with cash money

Statistics NZ, the NZ Government's 'numbers crew' have done some analysis on the NZ film industry which reveals Mortal Engines has propped up the film industry a little bit:

"New Zealand film production revenue increased 15 percent to $1.1billion in 2017, Stats NZ said today. Wellington remains the main player, but Auckland’s film sector led the growth last year.

Wellington’s film production revenue decreased slightly from 2016, but it is still the main player in film production, accounting for gross revenue of $631million in 2017.

“In 2017, Wellington’s film production revenue was more than half (55 percent) of New Zealand’s total, while Auckland’s share rose to 43 percent,” said business performance manager Laura O’Leary.

“In 2017, Wellington-based production and post-production companies contributed to the making of Ghost in the Shell, Thor: Ragnarok, Blade Runner 2049, Justice League, and War for the Planet of the Apes, while Mortal Engines was shot in Wellington.”

I still think it's incredible how people like Peter Jackson, Jaime Selkirk, Richard Taylor and Fran Walsh have managed to turn Wellington into a bona fide movie making town so far away from the movie lots of Hollywood.  

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Night Flights featuring Anna Fang is now available for pre-order

night flights by philip reeve

Amazon has Philip Reeve's 'Night Flights' available for pre-order

What so special about Night Flights?

It's the first original work set in the Mortal Engines universe since Reeve's final prequel novel, Scrivener's Moon.

Featuring fan favourite Anna Fang, the book is three separate short stories that Reeve came up with and is released on July 5th. Order a copy from Amazon here.

The middle story is based Reeve's long out-of-print World Book Day story Traction City. It has been re-written it to bring Anna to the centre of things whereas in the original short, she made more of a cameo appearance in the original version.

The other two are episodes from Anna’s life which Phillip Reeve could never find a place for in the original Mortal Engines Quartet, and which he thought would make good stories in their own right.

Reeve stated he was inspired to write the stories after talking to actress Jihae who is playing Anna Fang in the forthcoming movie. We suspect it was more of a case of his publisher saying they needed something new to tie into the movie production hype!

Here's the official puff on the book:

Return to the world of Mortal Engines in this new book of three short stories about the rebellious young aviatrix, Anna Fang, illustrated by Ian McQue. A key character in the Mortal Engines book and film, this is your chance to learn more of her past. Night Flights includes Traction City, the 2011 World Book Day Book by Philip Reeve.

In a dangerous future world where gigantic, motorised cities attack and devour each other, London hunts where no other predator dares. But Anna Fang - pilot, adventurer, spy - isn't afraid.

The three stories show gripping, moving, exciting moments in Anna Fang's life: her childhood as a slave aboard the moving city Arkangel, a showdown against a robotic Stalker that is terrifyingly out of control and her free life as an intelligence agent for the Anti-Traction league that might not be quite as free as she hoped.

Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Fever Crumb book review

fever crumb full cover

I wasn't really sure what I was expecting when I began my read of Fever Crumb.

What book could live up to the brilliance of the Mortal Engines quadrillogy / quartet?

What book could capture the magic of that world with a completely new set of characters?

Does Philip Reeve still have the midas touch?

We'll he must have because Fever Crumb spawned two further sequels so let's see how he went eh?


Fever Crumb is tale of Fever Crumb, a young female Engineer lost in a sea of male Engineers.

Found, abandoned as a baby in basket, it would seem to obvious to suggest that Fever is some kind of Moses for the grounded city of London.

Set against a back drop of a past history when Scriven ruled London and the people are still recovering from that domination, Fever must help Kit Solent discover the secrets of his archaeological dig.

That name Kit Solent.

When I read that, my heart sank a little as I thought I knew who that's gentleman eventually becomes.


Which made me wonder just where the hell this story was going to take us, and what would become of Solent's delightful children Ruan and Fern?

The discovery of Shrike's actual origin was quite a wonderful moment and as a consequence of being the Shrike, this particular story arc is the only real direct connection to the original novels and that works quite well, meaning the story of Fever Crumb can be told without any consequence to the original stories.

Reeve actually packs a lot of detail into the first 50 pages of this novel. While it's a new world within the old world, its place feels quite natural in the scheme of things.

The more I read of this book, the more I feel it's come into its own story about Fever and the history of her family that she is slowly discovering. The fact it's set in the beginning of the Traction Era has little influence on the story but it is nice to be 'in on' the history that has led to the city of London becoming the monstrous giant size it had attained by the events of the original Mortal Engines.

A slow middle which gives the main characters a chance to get their bearings, set up some plot points gives way to a strong ending where all the threads of the story come together quite nicely - something which Reeve does quite well across the entire series.

Reeve's inventive use of the English language where he uses the term 'blogger' as a swear word was a lot of fun. All the usual puns and references to our modern world are there which all add up to classic Reeve.

I do feel that if this is the first Mortal Engines novel you read, you might not be as thrilled with the tale as you would if you had not read about Tom and Hester's adventures prior. Given that Reeve has said the books should be read in the order he wrote them, this makes a lot of sense.

I am greatly looking forward to the sequel, A Web of Air.

Order Fever Crumb from Book Depository or Amazon.

A drawing of Bagman Creech, a character from the novel:

bagman creech from the fever crumb novel

References to pop culture in Fever Crumb

fever crumb full book cover

Fever Crumb's puns and references 

If you've ever read a novel by Philip Reeve that's set in the realm of the Mortal Engines, you'll know he as quite the distinct writing style.

There's a wry humor that pervades his writing, it's a knowing joke about English culture and history the language and pop culture.

Which basically means a lot of dad jokes.

Reeve's kept up this approach with Fever Crumb, the first prequel to the wildly successful Mortal Engines book series.

Here's the cultural references Reeve made in Fever Crumb (that this Kiwi from the other side of the un-scorched Earth could figure out).

  • When Fever heads off to get the tram into London city, she needs to buy an oyster shell which signals to the tram operators that she has paid her fare. Real world Londoners will recognise this is a nod to the Oyster Card system which users pay their fares across London's transportation system.
  • The Mott and Hoople tavern run by the wicked Ted Swiney is a shout out to Mott the Hoople, a once popular English band whose signature song was All of the Dudes, a song they did with David Bowie (This author saw Bowie do it live one and it was amazeballs). 
  • The Tram conductor shouting the stop for Liver Pill Street is most probably making a nod to the city of Liverpool.
  • Fever stumbles across of worshipers chanting "Hari! Hari! Hari! Potter!" which is presumably a nod and play on words to the young wizard of  JK Rowling's novels. This would seem to be Reeve's first intentional nod to Harry Potter - the name Gideon Crumb (Fever's father) from The Goblet of Fire was a mere co-incidence.
  • 'Blog' or 'bloggers' is used as a form of swearing. 
  • One tram stop is called Celebrity Square - presumably this is a reference to the popular American television show.
  • "Cheesers Crice" - slang for Jesus Christ - referred to as being some 'some obscure cockney god'
  • We all know that paper boys deliver newspapers that give news about death. In Reeve's world, paper boys are literally walking paper devices in the shape of boys (or girls!) that bring death! 

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Philip Reeve announces TWO new Mortal Engines novels,"Wild Fang" and "Naughty Nimrods!"

philip reeve author

Mortal Engines scribe Philip Reeve has announced not one but two new Mortal Engines books, one prequel called 'Wild Fang' and A Darkling Plain sequel called 'Naughty Nimrods!'

It's incredible that Reeve has written new one novel let alone two!

Can you believe it?

The first is a prequel that features Anna Fang called "Wild Fang" which covers Fang's childhood as a slave and how she was able to build her airship The Jenny Hanniver and escape.

For clarity, this is in additional book to the recent short story collection called Night Flights which also featured Anna Fang.

Reeve said that he had gone back to some original drafts that he had discarded 15 years ago and saw a new way to cover the Fang's origin and the time just before she joined up with the Anti Traction League.

"Wild Fang, I think I love you."....

The second novel is a sequel set in time after A Darkling Plain. It's set some 85 years after that novel and focuses on the descendants of Nimrod Pennyroyal! Merciful Cleo!

This explains the title, 'Naughty Nimrods!'. Yes, that exclamation mark is part of the title!

To our mind that seems an odd choice - the children and grandchildren of Theo and Wren would seem a more natural progression but knowing Reeve's odd style, it's probably an inspired subject choice.

Maybe it's a fake out?

Reeve said that the Wild Fang novel would be published today as an e-book and Naughty Nimrods! will follow next year on 1 April 2019.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Jeremy Levett, co-author of the Illustrated World of Mortal Engines, does a Reddit AMA

book cover of The Illustrated World of  Mortal Engines
The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines

You may have heard of the Traction Codex which was a small companion piece that Philip Reeve wrote with Jeremy Levett.

Given the Mortal Engines releases in December this year, Levett and Reeve have teamed up again to do a sort of revised codex, The Illustrated World of  Mortal Engines.

To help kick start the promotional work for the movie tie in, Levett as done a Reddit Ask Me Anything session on /r/MortalEngines.

Jeremy started with the following introduction:

A brief history of how this all happened:

I’ve been a fan of Mortal Engines pretty much since the first one came out, and Mr Reeve and I became pen-friends when I was at university. This was before the Reeve & McIntyre books or the Railhead series; the Fever Crumb books were rolling out and giving much more texture and history to the world, and Scholastic were relaunching Mortal Engines under the famous CG covers.

They wanted an extra thing to go along with the books, and someone (I can't remember who the idea came from) hit on a sort of Fan’s Guide to Mortal Engines. Philip asked if I, being a historian, occasional writer and massive ME nerd, wanted to help, and so we co-wrote what became the original Traction Codex. Unfortunately, although a paper version was mooted and Philip did some lovely illustrations, it only ever ended up as an ebook (which you can find on Amazon for a trifling amount of money).

With the release of the film, Scholastic have decided to come back to the idea and commission an “Illustrated World of Mortal Engines”. It’s much bigger and longer than the original Codex and will be fully illustrated, and gave us a chance to explore huge areas of the world that were previously and answer all those questions that needed it.

For instance, what’s really up with those Nuevo-Mayan ziggurat cities? What happened to the Sydney Opera House? How did anyone catch up to London once this whole moving cities nonsense started? What’s the single silliest idea for a traction city we can come up with? (Vyborg, Panjandrum and Borsanski-Novi are all vying for that top spot.) And so on...

Some of the content is taken/refined/updated from the original Codex, and one idea in particular ended up as one of the short stories in Night Flights (which I’m very excited for, and you should be too.)

Here's some replies with some minor editing to improve reading flow as Reddit can go all over the place.

With this new book, will there be historical titbits too?

There will be a lot more history of what happened to the world after the 60 Minute War, and a little about what people in the Mortal Engines world think the Ancients might have been like, but remember that most historians are doing their best with pretty patchy scraps of information about a world full of deeply confusing fiction. Even the best ideas of the pre-60MW world are probably as accurate as this.

The best in-universe source for what really happened during the 60 Minute War may be the Skrevenastuut pyramid in Scrivener's Moon.

We often hear of large cities consuming smaller ones. Do cities of similar size square off against each other? And when they do, what happens?

Back in the early days of Traction Cities a bizarre custom of Traktionturnieren developed among certain German-speaking traction towns, where equally matched cities would have jousting matches. You can read about this (and see it illustrated!) on Philip's blog here:

In these more rational modern days, cities of similar size will generally either roll up to each other to trade and have a chat, or simply politely ignore each other. Occasionally, you will see trading clusters of towns of various sizes meeting by truce rather than eating each other.

As in real jousting, the stadtslanzen they use allow for hitting each other without a complete Pachycephalosaurus-style headlong smash. Generally, one pass is enough (unless the first is a real disappointment!) to determine a victor - after which the winning town might loot the loser, or accept a tribute, or simply be happy to add another victory marker to its heraldry and carry on.

It is mentioned that the mountains of the moon lie near Zagwa, and by the time of the books presumably are on the borderlands between saharan city territory and static settlements & nations further south. Are the mountains of the moon new mountains & would it be accurate to say they form or are near the source of the nile? Because I'm just thinking; what with the Zagwan crusades north earlier in the traction era, the nile would've been a major possible logistics & power projection line north, and make the mobilisation of cairo a clear major blow.

I think the Mountains of the Moon are quite near the source of the Nile, but with all that's happened since then it might not be the best way to get around. The Zagwan Empire at its height controlled almost all of North Africa, with well-built roads linking the interior to coastal towns and mines excavating crashed Slow Bombs in the Sahara for meteoric iron, so the Nile wouldn't have been an essential logistical link.

If you're allowed to reveal it, what's your favourite part of the IWOME? If not, could you give us a vague and purposefully frustrating hint?

Probably the single most fun part to write was the Australian cities and all the bizarre misshapen traction predators that have come into existence over there - bunyips, drop-boroughs, outback stationaries, Alice Springs with its turbo-pogos. But anything which involves a decent density of puns is high on my list.

How are the cities powered? In Fever Crumb, Quirk is looking for Godshawk’s lab which has a prototype engine in it which I assume was adapted for use in London and other early cities, but what is this engine? I’ve always assumed that cities we’re steam driven given how in London’s mad dash east they were using up any expendable fuel to burn hence the trees in Hyde park (was it that park?) being cut down and the museums furniture being ransacked. There is the possibility the cities are petrol or diesel driven, given there are oil drilling towns in the arctic but that seems for the airships more than anything, could it be that the cities run on an entirely different set up to what we see as conventional?

There are almost as many different types of land-engine as there are as cities, and some (like the Scabious Spheres) are so sophisticated that it's possible even their designers don't really know how they work! Most are based on the highly efficient Godshawk-pattern heat engines you mention, which are omnivorous and will take any source of heat - oil is valued for its high energy density but as you noted wood, coal, Miss Plym's collection of unique examples of cabinet-making etc can all be used. You'll have to read the IWOME to learn about the time Potencia became the first Traction City to be powered by beef fat...

How does the timeline of the series lay out against where we are currently, does the Sixty minute war occur around the 2100s given the tech like Medusa, ODIN and the remembering machines all seem to advance for what we have now, furthermore how much time is spent between the war and the books is it around 1000 years or so? I think I read somewhere that the Traction Era lasted for around 1000 years yet the cities were only around for 200-300 of that ?

The "Traction Era" refers to the overall period of motorised nomads trundling around the world, which led (il)logically to Traction Cities. London mobilises during the events of Scrivener's Moon in 480 TE, and Mortal Engines is set in 1007 TE. How long before Traction the 60 Minute War actually was is a source of very fierce debate among historians, not helped by the general lack of physical written records in the Screen Age.

Mr Reeve once said he knew where Arlo was, what he was up to now etc. This is of course after the events in a Web of Air, and he didn't reappear in Scrivener's Moon. Any chance of letting us all know here what we would have read about Arlo, if he had reappeared?

I can tell you he's worshipped as a minor god in Mayda-at-the-World's-End, and that his life (and career inventing fun flying things) didn't end with A Web of Air. But for more detail, you'll have to wait for Night Flights.


There's a surprisingly a lot of detailed information in those responses, it's clear Levett sure knows a thing or fourteen about the world of Mortal Engines!

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

The full set of new Mortal Engines covers by Ian McQue revealed

Scholastic have revealed the full set of new cover designs for the Mortal Engines quartet - and also the first look at the cover for Night Flights, the short stories collection that features Anna Fang.

The illustration of the art has been done by the pretty ace Ian McQue and was designed by Jamie Gregory.

The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines was co-written with Jeremy Levett - he did a Reddit AMA on the book and the collaboration with Reeve.

mortal engines ian mvque covers

Here's the cover for Night Flights:

Here's a quick doodle sketch Ian did of a traction city:

ian mcque traction city sketch

Monday, March 26, 2018

Mortal Engines book has new cover by Ian McQue

Given the Mortal Engines movie is coming to silver screens near everyone in December, it's quite natural for the book publisher Scholastic to take advantage of this window to promote Philip Reeve's book work.

So far, we've had the announcement of Night Flights and Spanish versions of the original works and now the original book itself has got the royal treatment of a new cover from Ian McQue. The as yet unseen cover of Night Flights is also by McQue.

Reeve tweeted this image of the cover:

mortal engines ian mcque

If you've seen the movie trailer, you might recognize the cover as an image from that (or the book!) where our Hawty Heroine Hester Shaw is seeing the traction city of London for the first time. That scene itself is basically the start of the first Star Wars film.

Here's Reeve posing with the poster:

reee posing with his books

We imagine Reeve's is well please with this cover as he has remarked in the past his dissatisfaction with the covers of the American releases of his books. Don't get us started on how those books renamed Shrike to Grike!

Thursday, March 22, 2018

↠ The Lions were in the original concept art the whole damn time!

Others probably spotted it but I only just realised that the Lions that form part of the final version of the traction city of London, where actually there in the original concept art that Peter Jackson released:

That object in the yellow circle is totally the back of a lion.


If you need a reminder, here are the lions from the trailer:

So it would seem that director Christian Rivers settled on the Lions as part of the whole shebang pretty early on, though of course they could have been described in the script...

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Who is Anna Fang from Mortal Engines?

Meet Anna Fang of the Anti Traction League 

Spoilers below for those who have not read the novel.

In the Mortal Engines novel, Anna Fang is an Asian aviator that Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy meet shortly after their 'expulsion' from the city of London.
She's mysterious.

She's cold.

Yet warm.

She might slice and dice you.

She might make you a cake.

When we first meet Anna it quickly transpires she is a pretty handy in a tight spot. Shortly after she meets Hester and Tom at Speedwell, they escape. At the floating city of Airhaen she saves Tom and Hester from the Shrike when he attacks.

Further into the novel Anna Fang leads a successful attack on  the pirate town 'Tunbridge Wheels' and destroys it. She then later picks up Tom and Hester for a second time. Despite knowing she is an Anti-Tractionist (which gives Tom concerns) our dynamic duo quickly find friendship with Anna.

Anna's mortal fate occurs at the end of the novel when she is killed by dastardly Thaddeus Valentine when he stabs her through the neck, during an epic sword fight.

But wait, there's more!

While plenty of people die in Mortal Engines, it's hard to keep a good anti-tractionist agent down and in the sequel Predator's Gold, her character is literally brought back to do. Pretty easy in a world where Stalkers roam eh?

So meet stalker Anna Fang

If you've got this far, you know of the stalkers.

They are the re-animated dead beings corrupted by unexplained technology from long dead civilizations.

Stalkers are usually under the control of their masters but it's hard to keep a good Anna Fang down....

In Predator's Gold, Anna Fang's body is stolen from her burial place by the rebellious 'Green Storm' and subjected to the re-animation process and brought back to life.

Stalker Anna Fang quickly assumes control of the Green Storm, absorbs the Anti Traction league and sets out to assert her will across the land. She basically becomes a military dictator.

This new version of Anna Fang proves to be a fantastic character as Philip Reeve casts her as a bit of a Jackel and Hyde character. While she is indeed a re animated corpse that's hell bent on the destruction of just about the entire human race, her original, more loving personality continues to bubble through.

Poor Fishcake gets to see both personalities as he escorts her on her mission to wreak havoc across humanity by using the ODIN weapon.

Eventually Stalker Anna Fang is killed by Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal, but only after the 'good' Anna Fang surfaced long enough to turn of the ODIN device.

What is Anna Fang's back story?

anna fang sketchIf one picks through the books one can work out some details about the life Anna Fang led prior to when we first meet her in the original novel. Of course one has to read all four novels in the series...

Here we go then.

Anna's life and thus back story begins as the child of air traders in the Ice Wastes.

When the family  airship was captured, she became a slave in the northern ice city of Arkangel, under the control of Stilton Kael (Whom readers of Predator's Gold, might know as 'Uncle').

As she grew, Fang managed to build the Jenny Haniver in secret by taking  parts from here and there like she was the subject of some kind of Johnny Cash song and then escaped in it.

Anna made her way to raft city Perfume Harbour. She  was eventually introduced to and ended up working as a spy for the Anti-Traction League. Her claim to fame was the destruction of mechanical cities that threatened the safety of  static settlements (anti tractionist) including the celebrated city of Marseilles.

Night Flights will add to the back story of Anna

When Philip Reeve's new short story collection Night Flights is released, we will be able to fill in all the details around Anna's back story because the stories are all about her!

"The official synopsis says the stories show gripping, moving, exciting moments in Anna Fang's life: her childhood as a slave aboard the moving city Arkangel, her daring escape, an attempt to sabotage the moving cities, a showdown against a Stalker, her free life as an intelligence agent for the Anti-Traction league, and an adventure into the haunted skies of the Dead Continent, America."

night flights book cover mortal engines

Who plays Anna Fang in the Mortal Engines movie?

Singer Jihae has stepped up to play the character. If you've seen the trailer for the Mortal Engines, you may have heard her singing a cover of Vera Lynn's There'll Always Be An England.

actress jihae from Mortal Engines film

Check out Jihae's excellent cover version of the over-covered Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen.

Here's a sketch of Fang's ship, the Jenny Hanniver:

jenny hanniver pencil sketch

Here's a sweet sketch by char_loot1095 of Anna:

anna fang sketch red coat

Here's the our heroes at Batmunkh Gompa:

Batmunkh Gomp:

Thursday, March 8, 2018

Shrike pencil art by Reb Hermit

This Shrike pencil sketch by Reb Hermit (Dontdrinktheink) is simply wonderful.

Reb has really brought out Shrikes 'dead look'!

shrike pencil sketch from mortal engines

In the Mortal Engines movie, Shrike is played by Stephan Lang. Many will know him from Avatar but he will be unrecognizable in the film.

In the American book version, Shrike was actually called Grike. We suspect a few American readers will be confused when they first see the movie!

Sunday, February 25, 2018

What are the translation names of the Mortal Engines books?

The name Mortal Engines is such a great name that Phillip Reeve chose for his first novel.

It has a double meaning in that it references big giant mechanized cities that run around eating each other under the concept of Municipal Darwinism' and also it references that humans are mortal, fragile and they can be broken both physically and mental.

Such are the novel's themes!

If you've ever read Othello, you might have spied that Reeve borrowed the words for the title!*

But does this work when the title is translated into languages other than English? You decide.

Book One: Mortal Engines

  • French Translation: Mécaniques Fatales
  • Spanish Translation: Maquinas Mortales
  • German: Krieg der Städte - this translates as War of the Cities.
  • Turkish: Yürüyen Kentler 

Book Two: Predators Gold

  • French: L'Or du prédateur
  • Spanish: El oro del depredador
  • Turkish: İhanet Altını

Book Three: Infernal Devices

  • French Translation: Machinations infernales
  • Spanish Translation: Inventos Infernales
  • Turkish: Cehennem Makineleri

* A Darking Plain's title is also quite interesting as it is borrowed from Matthew Arnold's famous poem Dover Beach and it's use in the novel refers to the chaotic battles of the book.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

↠ What was the Sixty Minute War in Mortal Engines?

sixty minute war mortal engines

What was the Sixty Minute War?

The Sixty Minute War was a global battle that took place thousands of years before the events of the Mortal Engines Quartet and the Fever Crumb Series.

The 60 minute name conveys that the war took only an hour to begin and end - this was due to the speed and efficiency of the weapons of mass destruction used.

This is because of the way nuclear war scenarios work.

Say Country A decides to wipe out Country B. B can detect the launch of A.

They have time to understand that even though their country is about to be wiped out, they can get their own bloody revenge on Country A.

So they will launch their their own missiles at Country A ensuring that it is destroyed too. This is called mutual self destruction.

While the former Soviet Union played brinkmanship games with the US (think the Cuban Missile Crisis) no country has crossed the line as they know there's a large chance that they will lose everything themselves (Hiroshima and Nagasaki aside as only the US had such weapons at the time).

So in the book and movie of Mortal Engines, there was of course a 'cold war' between various nations that directly led to the war's start. The mutual self destruction concept played out and when the first strike was launched, the other nations responded in kind.

And once the arms were deployed, some from the land, some from orbiting satellites in space and may be the odd submarine, the so called 'war' was over and done with in an hour.

This was the classic doom's day scenario leading to a desolate Earth where most of humanity was destroyed. In Reeve's novels North America became known as The Dead Continent and thought inhospitable for human life.

Two of the weapons were known as the MEDUSA, which features in the first novel and the second, ODIN, is first featured in the third novel of the Predator Cities Quartet, Infernal Devices.

The ODIN weapon was used by Stalker Anna Fang in A Darkling Plain to great effect when she went on a rather magnificent rampage and destroyed all in her path.

The original novel also noted at page 7 that 'tailored virus bombs' were also used. We can only imagine the horror that those weapons delivered on to Earth's population.

MEDUSA on London City

What is the Dead Continent?

The Dead Continent is the name given to what we would considered modern North America.

As the center of the  American Empire, it was a key target during the infamous Sixty Minute  

By the time of the late Traction Era, it was regarded by many humans as a barren, irradiated, desolate and unhospitable land, lost to time.

Professor Nimrod Pennyroyal claimed to have adventured and explored the Dead Continent and wrote a very popular book about his travels.

The truth was a few people where in the know - many of the parts from the MEDUSA weapon where sourced from the continent.

In Predator's Gold, the novel finished with Tom Natsworthy and Hester Shaw deciding to settle in Vineland, an area of the Dead Continent that was discovered to be habitable and sustainable in the long-term.

As to what the author Philip Reeve had to say about what he thought was going on:

"I think it's actually highly unlikely that the US is a 'dead continent' - however badly knocked about it was, it would have been re-seeded with plants and animals by the time of Mortal Engines. So I expect Valentine and other explorers have missed a lot of thriving low-intensity settlements and secret airbases.

I was thinking of secret airbases full of pirate airships etc, but who knows - maybe there are whole underground societies which went into deep bunkers when the bombs started falling and are still waiting for the all clear."

If you think this concept from Philip Reeve's book was interesting, check out his theory of municipal darwinism.

Thursday, February 1, 2018

We have a new Facebook Page!

Given Universal Studios appears to have used the power of Hollyw$$d and taken our Facebook page for their own purposes*, we've created a new one - and of course it's for all fans of the books and movie.

All posts published here will end up there.

That picture above reminds us that we have yet to solve our suspicions about a recent whale disappearance involving Peter Jackson! 

Follow the Facebook page!

* Seriously, Mortal Engines will need all the support it can get as a new franchise and the BRAND itself behaves this way. Clearly the days when PJ and Co went out of their way to help the fan base and engage in meaningful ways. I guess Universal is more worried about Facebook likes?

Mortal Engines is not Mad Max, it's just mad, Max.

Did you enjoy the new Mad Max movie teaser that came out last week?

It had a giant city chasing a smaller, traction city?

The new one directed by Christian Rivers?

Well, according to so many people on Twitter, the new Mortal Engines is a bit like Mad Max.

And therefore is 'discount Mad Max' or 'it literally looks like such a rip of mad max'.

I presume this in in reference to Fury Road, which was a fabulous movie and a sumptuous CGI delight of trucks and cars trying to crush one another.

That said:

The Mad Max I know is a biker gang terrorizing Max's family.

The Mad Max I know is a gang led by a flamboyant gentleman called Humongous.

The Mad Max I know is all about a pig killer.

The Mad Max I know is about a one armed truck driver who can kick it with the worst of them.

These are great movies, all visionary in various ways.

They are not about giant cities that roam the Earth looking for resources.

And they certainly do not look like what we saw in the Mortal Engines teaser trailer.

But so many people seem to have commented that it is.

We honestly wonder why this is?

If they are referring to Mad Max Fury Road, this is Mad Max Fury Road:

Which frankly reminds me of this guy from Rogue One:

Sure there's a big chase going in Fury Road and there's one going on in Mortal Engines, so that must be it right?

Well if anything, that teaser is basically a remix mix of the opening 2 minutes of one of the greatest scientific films of all time, Star Wars.

You recall how that goes right? A giant massive Star Destroyer rolls down the screen and it takes what seems like forever to show the scale of the thing. We then see it is actually chasing a small ship. Which it eventually captures and draws into itself.

Which is basically the teaser!

So instead of saying Mortal Engines looks like Max Max, would it be better to bitch and gripe that it rips off the start of Star Wars?

The truth is that for most people of a certain age (young twitter users who comment on movie trailers) Mad Max Fury Road is possibly their only reference point to a post apocalyptic event movie.

I'd wager most of them have not seen the original Max Max trilogy for a start. They've probably never scene, The Road, The Postman, THX 1138, The Book of Eli, Water World, Escape from New York, 12 Monkies, The Quiet Earth, Zardoz, Cherry 2000, Judge Dredd (Stallone version) or Planet of the Apes.

One could argue that Mortal Engines looks a lot like some of those movies. 

Or Not.

I passed comment on Twitter about this matter as any rapid fan boy that is hugely protective of THEIR story is wont to do so:.

And none other than the writer of the novels, Philip Reeve chipped in with his views.

We still don't see but hey, if the book's author gets it, maybe I should just chill out and get back to over-thinking the fact that Hester Shaw has two eyes... or wondering about Howl's Moving Castle.....

We hope the movie is more 'Helm's Deep on wheels'.....

And if you want to read without a sense of irony (?) Philip Reeve actually wrote up a review of Mad Max: Fury Road !!

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Some sweet Shrike fan art 

We found this sweet art on Instagram, originally posted to Deviant Art by Tysho.

American readers of Mortal Engines will know him as Grike but not for long as Stephen Lang will be playing him as Shrike in Christian River's version of the Philip Reeve novel.

The Shrike is a key character in the Mortal Engines series and has a few key pivotal moments in the first novel which should translate into some pretty good scares and action in the film!

That said, he's more machine now than man....

grike from mortal engines

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Philip Reeve to publish 'An Illustrated Guide to the World of Mortal Engines'

As a tie in to the forth coming Mortal Engines movie, author Philip Reeve has announced the publication of 'An Illustrated Guide to the World of Mortal Engines'.

This work appears to a super-dooper rework of The Traction Codex which was published some years ago as an e-book with collaborator Jeremy Levett.

Reeve advised:

"With the Mortal Engines movie looming, it seemed a good opportunity to revise and expand the old Mortal Engines Codex, which had a very patchy e-book release a few years ago.

Jeremy Levett knows far more about history and technology than I ever will, and he’s come up with an impressively plausible account of the centuries which separate the Fever Crumb books from the beginning of Mortal Engines, as well as lots of extra details about the cities, airships and characters who inhabit the books. 

There are glimpses of what the Traction era means for Australia, South America, and other bits of the world my stories never managed to encompass. 

And it will all be full of paintings, maps and diagrams by an illustrator (or illustrators) whose name (or names) I’ll reveal nearer the publication date."


the illustrated world of mortal engines

The guide will be published by Scholastic on November 2018, a month before the Christian Rivers directed movie is released world wide.

We suspect that Ian McQue will have contributed to some of the artwork given he has done the artwork for the soon to be published 'Night Flights' short stories collection that features Anna Fang.

The artwork above is some concept work that Ian did when he was inspired by the Mortal Engines book AND seemingly before he had a working relationship with Philip Reeve! I like how life works out!

Update - we were correct Ian has done the illustrations for this book, and also the new covers for Mortal Engines quartet of novels. Levett did an Ask Me Anything Session on Reddit about the guide.

↠ Night Flights by Philip Reeve - A Mortal Engines prequel featuring Anna Fang

night flights book cover philip reeve

New stories in the Mortal Engines world are being released in August this year.

Night Flights: A Mortal Engines Collection by ME author Phillip Reeve is up on Amazon as being able to be ordered for an August 2018 release.

anna fang mortal engines fan artThe 208 pages long short story collection is described as being:

"Night Flights is composed of three short stories that follow the fascinating, tough aviatrix Anna Fang.

A key character in the Mortal Engines book and film, this is your chance to learn her backstory.

The stories show gripping, moving, exciting moments in Anna Fang's life: her childhood as a slave aboard the moving city Arkangel, her daring escape, an attempt to sabotage the moving cities, a showdown against a Stalker, her free life as an intelligence agent for the Anti-Traction league, and an adventure into the haunted skies of the Dead Continent, America.

Each story is an exquisite feat of world building and imagination, and each contains an instantly-immersive adventure.

Anna Fang is a tough and inspiring heroine that readers and movie-viewers alike will want to know more about. This book can stand alone, but is best paired with Mortal Engines Book 1 or the feature film."

It's a nice tie-in to the movie that is being released in December this year.

Philip Reeve gave an update:

"Ian McQue is also going to be providing a cover and some interior illustrations for this book, which gathers together three short stories about Anna Fang, adding a bit of detail to the stories of her early life which are hinted at in Mortal Engines. 

The middle story is based on my long out-of-print World Book Day story Traction City, but I’ve re-written it to bring Anna to the centre of things – she made more of a cameo appearance in the original version. 

The other two are episodes from Anna’s life which never found a place in the original Mortal Engines Quartet, and which I think make good stories in their own right – I’m very much looking forward to seeing what images Ian puts with them. As there’s no artwork to show you yet, here’s a picture of Jihae, who plays Anna in the forthcoming Mortal Engines movie. (It was talking to her in Wellington last year which made me decide to do this book.)"

We will hazard a guess that Ian McQue is also doing work on the revised Traction Code Index which is going to be re-released as An Illustrated Guide to the World of Mortal Engines....

No word if there will be an audiobook.


So I was kind of correct in my guesses below...

I got to wondering where had this new work came from given that Reeve has been busy writing the sequel to his Railhead series, Station Zero

Where does he get the time?

And then I remembered The Reevening where Phillip Reeve was interviewed by some very keen book fans on the Mortal Engines Discord Server. 

Reeve mentioned he had some leftover Anna Fang (in fact a whole book!):

"There was a whole abandoned novel after Mortal Engines, about a raft city (Brighton) escaping across the Atlantic from the Green Storm. I binned that, but the basic idea became Predator's Gold, and Brighton reappeared in Infernal Devices, so it wasn't completely wasted. There are a bunch of Anna Fang back story bits which got bumped from book to book and never quite fitted in anywhere, but other than that I don't think there's anything readable lying around."

So we presume, Reeve has gone back to these abandon works, given them some love and boxed them ups as Night Flights.

There is currently no artwork available for the stories, the image above is a fan concept found at the Wiki. If any one know's who drew it, we're keen to give them credit!

Pre-order your copy on Amazon.