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

Monday, October 15, 2018
phillip reeve peter jackson

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

Here's the tale:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I prefer the real Hester

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

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

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

amir zand mortal engines

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

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

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

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

Close enough to ME to still be ME?

Order The Illustrated World of Mortal Engines from Amazon.

The Mortal Engines film crew

Found on the Instagrams, this is an on-set photo of the Mortal Engines film crew. Taken I think at Stone Street Studios in Wellington, NZ.

You can see PJ in the front and Christian Rivers is across two over on the right.

Stone Street Studios recently posted this picture to their Facebook page - note the whiteboard to the right making reference to Thaddeus and Katherine Valentine...

mortal engines costumers

And we found the note of thanks from Christian and the producers to the film crew when filming wrapped:

For those so curious, the word Arohanui is Maori for 'a lot of love'.

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

Saturday, October 13, 2018

What Star Wars film did you see first?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

And so you can with Mortal Engines.

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

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

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

But what do we know?

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

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

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

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

Here's why.

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

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

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

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

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

One perfect shot:

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

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

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

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

Nick Keller's Mortal Engines concept art designs

13th floor elevator concept art mortal engines

Concept art and design for the Mortal Engines film

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

Is Nick the new Doug Chiang?

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

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

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

Cockpit of the 13th Floor Elevator art

 Traction City Tracks: Can you spy Hester and Tom?

hester and tom in london tracks concept art

You know how this turned out in the actual film:

hester tom london tracks

The Lions of London will eat you for lunch:

london lions mortal engines

nick keller design artist weta workshop

mortal engines concept design airhaven

hester shaw london concept art picture

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

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

What is the meaning of the "Mortal Engines" movie title?

Saturday, October 6, 2018

What is the meaning of 'Mortal Engines' title and its Shakespeare reference?

The title of the book by Philip Reeve and movie produced by Peter Jackson is a quotation borrowed from William Shakespeare's 'Othello'.

Yes, Philip Reeve is referencing the Great Bard himself.

The full quote from Act III, scene iii is said by Othello himself:

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

For Mortal Engines, there's a double play in meaning.

Reeve uses the phrase as a commentary on the book's concept of 'Municipal Darwinism'.

Municipal Darwinism is the technological ecosystem by which most of the world of Mortal Engines works.

The larger predator cities consume smaller cities for their resources. Physical resources are used for fuel or re-utilised. Humans living on the captured cities can be enslaved or eaten.

It's basically a play on Charles Darwin's survival of the fittest concept from his natural selection theory.

The main theory of Municipal Darwinism is a predator and prey cycle; if the bigger town is faster than the smaller, the smaller town will be eaten.

But if the smaller town is faster than the bigger town, the bigger town risks running out of fuel and thus losing it's prey or even facing attack itself in a reversal of fortune.

While in the context of the book's universe this form of Darwinism has existed for 1000s of years since the 'Sixty Minute war', it's a zero sum game which refers to the fact that the society that engages of Municipal Darwinism is not actually a sustainable means of living.

All the cities' engines are indeed mortal as eventually there will be nothing left to consume and they will fail and die.

Readers familiar with Reeve's work will know that he's a bit of a literary magpie and nicks the odd line from a song here and there or a book or line from a classic play to liven up his books. He does it really well - so well we suspect that a lot of the younger readers he has will miss many things he does!

Shakespeare's words are of course is referring to humans as being mortal engines and the book also covers this perspective - consider Shrike. He's hundreds of years old is arguably more machine than man, an 'emotionless' engine. Is he mortal or immortal?

Extra for Experts:

How Mortal Engines fared at NY Comic Con


What a day featuring some of the cast and crew of Mortal Engines at New York Comic Con!

We and a few other fans have rumbled about how light on promotional activity there has been for the Christian Rivers directed film produced by Peter Jackson and finally, the dial has been turned close to 11.

Today we had the panel and we saw and learned a lot about the movie. In fact, those present got to watch the first 25 minutes! This seems unprecedented, as often it's only the first 5 -  8 minutes are shown, if at all.

First up, we got the trailer! #ShrikewillStrike! As expected the film will place a large amount of focus on the back story of Hester Shaw and Thaddeus Valentine and what drives Hester so much 

We finally had the character of Shrike revealed to us, and crikey the wait was worth it. After months of teases from actor Stephen Land, here's Shrike in all his
hideous glory:

stephen lang shrike

The 60 Minute War is discussed.

Producer Peter Jackson said:

 “It’s set about 3000 years from now, so it’s in our future,” said Jackson. “And what I like to think of it is it’s not post-apocalyptic, but it’s post-post apocalyptic. … [The war] redefined the map of the world, and many, many centuries passed, which was a pretty nasty time, and civilization eventually rebuilds itself. … And they wind up on these wheels, chasing each other. There are no more countries anymore, there are no more borders.”

Director Christian Rivers said:

 "First of all, it’s an amazing book,” Rives said. “It’s sort of the beginning of their relationship and this journey in this unique world. Mortal Engines itself…it’s about Hester Shaw, who’s a fierce outcast in our world, and she’s sort of driven by the memory of her murdered mother…She glides with Tom Matsworthy, who’s a charming young man, who has a story and lives on London…They go on this great adventure and find a bond together…She has the key to stopping London which is on the verge of becoming an unstoppable dangerous force which is going to destroy the world!”

Hester Shaw (or how I learnt to love her without a grotesque scar)

Spoilers about the film and book below.

Many ME fans speculated that Hester Shaw would not have her horrific scar in the Mortal Engines movie.

When the first trailer came out, we were nervous as even though Hester had a red scarf covering her face and she had two eyes (also why does she have a red scarf before he meets Tom? He gave it to her ...)

Many fans thought it was a key thing about the character, indeed it kind of turned a cliche about the heroine always being quite pretty on its head. 

Turns out, Hester's scar 'tis just but a scratch' compared to how it's described in the novel.

Author Philip Reeve who created the character was quite clear on her scarification when he said:

"But it struck me that people who live by their wits in wastelands tend not to be that glamorous or good looking, and who cares about beautiful people anyway?
So I decided right from the start to make Hester ugly, and I liked the idea that the hero would slowly fall in love with her anyway, which is far more interesting than having two gorgeous people seeing each other across a crowded room and falling in love.

Then it seemed to make sense to give Hester a scar, which she's received at the hands of the villain, so there's her initial motivation - revenge - right there on her face; she's like Captain Ahab with his missing leg!"

Hester Shaw became quite the iconic if not a cult figure for those that love the Mortal Engines series. 

I love her for the simple reason she killed a man with a typewriter in Infernal Devices. 

But, there's money to be made with a Peter Jackson produced Mortal Engines movie, and you can't sell a big Hollywood film with an ugly woman. 

You apparently just can't even though Charlize Theron won an Oscar for playing an ugly serial killer in Monster. 

So enter Hera Hilmar, an apparently lovely lass and an actress deemed worthy of playing Hester Shaw (no mention on Twitter about her typewriting skills though).

So Christian Rivers and PJ have sat down and gone, we can't make bank with our lead looking like Aileen Wournous, we need some eye candy aye? So what if we toned down that scar? 

And the producers started laughing all the way to their bank. 

And the fan boys and fan girls went, 'you gone fucked up PJ' (literally, I saw that on twitter somewhere).

Sure I've tweeted some of that sentiment and wondered about what could have been but then I was sitting down with a nice hoppy beer after emptying the dishwasher, folding some towels and I thought, why does a scar really matter?

I mean really?

Hester has a million reasons to hate herself, a scar is but one.

If the idea of Hester's character is that she is 'broken' then it doesn't matter how she looks, what matters is how the movie sets up how she feels. I think I 'd be pretty pissed if my parents had both been murdered and I then had to spend my formative years being raised by a kind of zombie robot called Shrike that used to be a man who has hands for knives. 

That's reason enough to be the unhappy, moody and even murderous Hester Shaw. 


So, this Mortal Engines fan has to get with the program and simply accept that Hester will not have a grotesque scar in the film. 

And you know what? I'm going to guess that Mortal Engines has sold say 400,000 copies. I really have no idea. 

Let's say 10,000 of those readers REALLY CARE about the scar. 


Those 10,000 are going to bitch and moan like those Star Wars fans did about The Last Jedi. No matter what. 

But if Peter Jackson and Christen Rivers want to make 500 million bank on this film, they gotta get bums on seats and those bums will not have read the book, they will not care about a scar they never knew existed and they will simply enjoy a film where the city of London runs around trying to eat other cities. 

So no scar for you, just a bad ass Anna Fang.

So, let's just hope Hester has a really good bitchy resting face...

↠ What Hester Shaw having two eyes means for the Mortal Engines film

Spoilers about the book follow in this piece on the eyes of Hester Shaw.

hesters face in mortal engines

There was one thing that surprised us with the release of the Mortal Engines trailer

It was not the majesty of London towering over little Salthook.

It was not the giant hooks fired into the sky.

It was not the time on the clock being before midday (and thus incorrect according to the book).

It was that Hester Shaw appeared to have two eyes!

Readers of the book by Philip Reeve will know that Hester is a hideously scarred young girl with only one eye. A wee spoiler here to explain - a main character in the film sliced her face open with a sword when she was a young child and she lost her eye as a result.

She's supposed to be ugly to look at. The trauma of what happened to her is both inward and outward.

Bad things happened to Hester.

Hester looks bad.

And this HEAVILY affects her character's psyche.

The author has explained his intent behind this quite well.

artists concept of hester shaw
An artist's interpretation of book Hester Shaw's scar
So will the Big Hollywood Movie Version of Hester Shaw have any influence on the character?

Well, first up we (me) have to get over ourselves and remember two things.

This aint Shakespeare (even though the name of the book was inspired by Othello) and it's a big production Hollywood movie which means the books are merely a guide for the Peter Jackson produced and Christian Rivers directed spectacle to follow.

So the trailer for Mortal Engines thus introduced us to Hester with two, healthy looking eyes.

What of it?

Well, Hester is also quote famous for wearing a red scarf to hide her disfigurement and quess what is covering half of Hester's face?

That's right, we are not shown the lower half of her visage. Perhaps underneath it, there's a missing nose? A hack out cheek with teeth showing through? A deliciously hideous scar?

It might be that due to Hollywood's need to cash in, the lead actress needs to be pretty still.

This is not Monster staring a Hollywood beauty as Eileen Wuornos. No, this is a relatively unknown actress in a huge role on which Peter Jackson's investor millions rest.

The question really is, will Hester still be a vicious little cobra, a cacodemon of utter rage and resolve? 

Part of the book character's lure is that she is the anti-hero of the tale, single minded in her mission for revenge and has trouble making friends. Let's hope that's retain as much as possible.

So, Hester will be pretty and that's that.


There's a wee chance all is not as it seems.

In the book, Hester doesn't get her red scarf until AFTER she has met Tom (he gets her one). The trailer is the opening scene of the book - which means at that point Hester has not met Tom and thus she has no red scarf.

Of course, with movie to book happening, anything can happen.

So it could be there's a bit of a fake out happening.

Maybe Hester's scar will be added later one audiences have been drawn in. It wouldn't be the first time that something was in a trailer but not the final film - look at the last three Star Wars movies - plenty of change ups happened to the point Rogue One hardly looks like it's own trailer!

Now, what do think of my contention that the trailer of Mortal Engines was basically the start of Star Wars: A New Hope?

Stephen Lang's 'Shrike' revealed for #MortalEngines

Friday, October 5, 2018
Did you ever see The Phantom Menace trailer back in the day when Darth Maul fully revealed himself to Qui-Gon and Obi-Wan by presenting himself to them with his dual light saber?

It was one of the great moments of the Star Wars canon.

And it was the same kind of feeling for this author today when the Shrike was revealed in the Mortal Engines trailer.

(The) Shrike is a key player in the orignal book and is set to have a massive presence in this film as one of the antagonists.

Played by Stephen 'Pops' Lang (of Avatar, Badlands fame) this man made monster of metal looks terrifying:

If you are an American reader of the Mortal Engines series, you may possibly be confused as to why Shrike is called Shrike and not Grike? The name was changed to Grike to avoid potential confusion with the character from the Hyperion novel.

The beauty of this Shrike design is that is just feels so faithful to how the character is described in the books AND it's kind of aligned with all the drawings fans have done for years.

stephen lang avatar

Lang said of his character at New York Comic Con:

"Once upon a time he was a man named Kit. That man was killed and his body was taken and he was hollowed out so there was really only a chassis left.

It was replaced with the technology at the time. He was resurrected as a man called The stalker...He was a warrior. He was a member of the fabled Lazarus Brigade...At this point, where our story starts, he really is a solo bounty hunter. He goes around, he collects heads, and he buys dolls and he opens them up...There's no memory left. 

The inside of his brain is described as a sleet of static." Shrike has memories of a little girl and he is searching for answers. One day, he comes across Hester Shaw, and he becomes her custodian, raising her "in his own fashion, not even understanding why he's doing it."

Will Shrike be as quotable as Darth Vader? Perhaps not but we expect great things!

The new Mortal Engines trailer is a rocking blast!

The second trailer for Mortal Engines has been released.

It's epic and finally Shrike is revealed!

While the first trailer had its moments, it felt a little lack lustre. This time round the production team have really stepped it up a notch.

What do you think of the trailer and the look of Shrike?

↠ What was the Sixty Minute War in Mortal Engines?

Thursday, October 4, 2018
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.

I am Anna Fang

Yes, she sure is Anna Fang.

Check out that triple barrel (sawn off?) shotgun!

↠ 28 Easter eggs, facts and trivia from the making of the Mortal Engines movie

trivia about mortal engines

Mortal Engines movie facts and trivia

Everyone loves nuggets of gold about how movies are made, the secrets that are well hidden until the movie is made and some good old trivia. Just look at Star Wars trivia, everyone loves that!

Here's what we've learned about the making of the first Mortal Engines feature movie, including a few well placed Easter Eggs that IMDB may have missed...
  1. Mortal Engines is the first feature film directed by Christian Rivers. At one point he was going to direct the remake of The Dambusters however that project was put on the back burner.
  2. The first of Philip Reeve's novels to be turned into a movie. Railhead next?
  3. Filming took mostly place at Weta Studios in Wellington's suburb of Miramar in New Zealand. This is where Peter Jackson and Richard Taylor and co have based themselves for 20 years making films such as Braindead, King Kong and The Frightners.
  4. Peter Jackson purchased the film rights from Philip Reeve in 2001 and has quietly worked on the movie ever since.
  5. This is the first film written by Peter Jackson (with his usual partners Fran Walsh and Phillipa Boyle) that he has not directed. First-time helmer (and Jackson protege) Christian Rivers has the directing duties.
  6. Produced by WingNut Films,
  7. Actress Hera Hilmar has been cast as Hester Shaw.
  8. The trailer made its debut with The Last Jedi
  9. The name of the movie comes from a line in William Shakespeare's Othello
  10. Mark Hadlow has a role in the movie. His first acting connection with Peter Jackson was in the Hobbit trilogy so it's clear Hadlow is a trusted and respect actor within that circle. He plays Orme Wreyland.
  11. The pin Chudleigh Pomery wears is the one that Bilbo Baggins wore in The Fellowship of the Rings.
  12. Rivers deliberated steered away from the movie looking like Mad Max. "We didn't want it to be post-apocalyptic dystopia so, we didn't want it to be 'Mad Max.' We didn't want it to be 'Hunger Games' or 'Divergent.' That's kind of a bleak, dystopian sort of film, you know? It needed to tie to our world."
  13. Look carefully for modern artifacts in the Museum and keep an eye out for the Despicable Me - Minions! They are in a section called "Deities of Lost America". In the novel the humans have mistaken Mickey Mouse for a god. Due to ownership rights, the Minions have been subbed in.
  14. 63 sets were built in Jackson's studio at Miramar, Wellington. These included the London GUT (Great Under Tier), Shrike’s workshop, Pomeroy’s museum, the slave market, and St. Paul’s Cathedral (in which MEDUSA is housed).
  15. The production received a rebate from the New Zealand government to recognise it had created a lot of employment opportunities and training for New Zealanders.
  16. Hester Shaw has two eyes in the film whereas in the book she only has one due to being sliced with a sword by Valentine prior to start of the novel. The book made's Hester face very ugly with a grotesque scar which was toned down for the movie.
  17. Author Philip Reeve and his son were cameo extras in the film. They filmed their parts when Reeve made a secret trip to New Zealand in May 2017.
  18. Singer Jihae is playing Anna Fang, a key figure of the Anti Traction League. The theme song Jihae sings is a cover of Vera Lynn's 'There'll Always Be An England.'
  19. The opening scene is striking similar to the opening of Star Wars: A New Hope.
  20. Jackson first started trying to make Mortal Engines in 2008 and would have directed it had the saga of The Hobbit's production being held in limbo not got in the way. 
  21. Liam Vogel was the official second unit director however Peter Jackson jumped in every so often. 
  22. Noted Lord of the Rings concept designer John Howe worked on the movie. 
  23. The legal entity of the production was a company called 'Squeaky Wheels'. We suspect this was the working name of the movie too. 
  24. The novel originally started out as a short story called Urbivore. The concept of moving cities came directly from that.  The story was notable for having a male aviator called Fang - the name clearly carried over to the Anna Fang character. The word urbivore stuck with Reeve as he used in to describe a giant city in A Darkling Plain
  25. The Shrike character name was inspired by Max Shreck from the Nosferatu film. When Reeve learned the film 'Shrek' was coming out, he amended the name. Shrike is so named for the bird that kills its insect prey by spiking it on thorns and other sharp plants.
  26. The opening chase of Salthook and London is closely modeled in concept on the opening of Star Wars.
  27. Salthook has been renamed Saltzhaken for the movie.
  28. The electronic screens around London show wanted posters that features Peter Jackson’s face. This is presumably his cameo. 

How do traction cities work in Mortal Engines?

Wednesday, October 3, 2018
traction city concept art london

How the traction cities and towns of Mortal Engines work

First of all, let's not go all Star Wars nerd level in our analysis of how the traction engines of Mortal Engines work and carry their giant cities across the Earth and ice.

Sure you can argue that the idea of traction cities actually roaming the Earth for 10,0000 years is as absurd as the subsequent theory of municipal darwinism, but we need to suspend our disbelief for a moment.

We need to accept that traction cities such as London work and they are giant beasts of machines kilometers wide that each carry complex societies that has its own 'world orders' that ensure those 'big wheels' keep on turning, Turd Tanks and all.

They were built after the 60 Minute War destroyed the Earth and made it a wasteland. The Cities were built so as to be able to move the surviving human populations to safer areas. The prequel novels of the series, starting with Fever Crumb show how they were developed under the watch of Nicholas Quirke based on the ideas of  Auric Godshawk.

Traction Cities are giant metropolises that are built on tiers that rely on giant internal fuel based engines to move on gigantic wheels or caterpillar tracks.

'Hungry' Cities such as London have populations of millions whereas some are small villages and hamlets propelled by small engines or even sails.

These cities such as London, hunt smaller cities (in order to tear them apart for resources and fuel) which in turn hunt towns which in turn hunt villages and static settlements.

How does the societal structure of London work?

The city of London models itself on a kind of Victorian-era society.

London's society is divided into four major and a number of minor Guilds.

The Engineers are responsible for maintaining the machines necessary for the survival of London, many of which are found by the Guild of Historians. The Historians, such as Chudleigh Pomery, are in charge of collecting and preserving highly prized, often dangerous artifacts - young Tom Natsworthy was an apprentice historian.

The Navigators are responsible for steering and plotting the course of London. The Merchants are in charge of running London's economy. London is officially ruled by an elected whom at the time of the original novel is the hardly magnanimous Magnus Crome, who is also the head of the Guild of Engineers.

Atop the whole of London sits St Paul's Cathedral. It is the only building known to have survived the Sixty Minute War and proves a central plot point in the movie.

The inhabitants of captured cities are integrated into the population of the predator city, or, in less ethical cities, taken as slaves and made to work. Cities will openly buy and seller slaves - the Nabisco Shkin Corporation being a feature of the later novels which does just that.

London is 2.5 kilometers long in the movie.

How do traction cities catch their prey?

To capture a city, the bigger city will usually have to chase the prey. They increase the speed of the engines and then chase. They aim to do it as fast as possible so that fuel expenditure is kept to a minimum.

Most cities have attachments called "Jaws" to catch their prey and drag them into the Gut. In the movie, London features large hooks which are fired out to capture the prey and then drags the catch toward the jaws.

The 'Great Under Tier' in London consist of hangars and harvesting districts where the captured prey is dismantled and looted for as much resource as possible, including humans found in the cities.

It is described by Tom Natsworthy as "A stinking sprawl of factories and furnaces between the jaws and control room".

↠ What is 'Municipal Darwinism' in Mortal Engines?

giant traction city tracks

What is the concept of 'Municipal Darwinism' in the Mortal Engines movie and book?

Municipal Darwinism is the 'technological ecosystem' by which most of the world works in the Mortal Engines novel and movies.

It's basically a play by author Philip Reeve on scientist Charles Darwin's survival of the fittest concept from his natural selection theory.

But you need to add the twist that it's a zero sum game, meaning there can be only one winner, kind of like The Highlander.

Think of the concept as 'there's always a bigger fish' from Star Wars. Every fish is looking to get a meal but in the end, only the biggest fish will dominate and survive.

But what does the biggest fish do when there is no food left?

There in lies the rub and the point of the book.

So how does this play out in the books?

The traction cities are the municipal part of the concept (or conceit as we see it). They are organized communities that follow their own laws and customs. For instance the city of London follows an Elizabethan hierarchy of structure.

In general, the larger 'predator cities' look to consume smaller cities for their resources.

Physical resources are used for fuel or re-utilised within the city.

Humans living on the captured cities can be enslaved or used as a source of protein and eaten.

That's right, eaten.

It was first espoused by the prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

The main theory of Municipal Darwinism is a predator and prey cycle; if the bigger city or town is faster than the smaller, the smaller town will caught and then be eaten.

But if the smaller town is faster than the bigger town, the bigger town risks running out of fuel and thus losing it's prey or even facing attack itself in a reversal of fortune.

While in the context of the book's universe, this form of Darwinism has existed for 1000s of years since the 'Sixty Minute War', it's a zero sum game which refers to the fact that the society of Municipal Darwinism is not actually a sustainable means of living in the long term.

The meaning of the title of Mortal Engines is that all the cities' engines are indeed mortal as eventually there will be nothing left for them to consume and they will fail and die, just like the humans who lived on them. Indeed, the title 'Mortal Engines' is a direct reference to a quote from William Shakespeare's Othello.

And in part, that's the irony about the book's ending.

One must bear in mind that not everybody believes in this concept.

There are many people living in hills and islands that choose to not live the traction city 'lifestyle' and they determinedly seek to form self sustaining cultures.

And there is of course, the whole Anti-Traction League thing at play...

The Anti Traction League / Green Storm hates these mechanical cities. They can see the end game and that it ultimately means death for all. That's why they seek to sabotage and destroy the big cities, knowing if they can stop their spread, their own territory would be safe.

municipal darwinism mortal engines

Thaddeus Valentine, dedicated father, keen explorer and historian

thaddeus valentine mortal engines

Here's a short featurette on Thaddues Valentine, a key antagonist of the Mortal Engines film. Played by Hugo Weaving, Valentine set's Tom Natsworthy on his path...

Meet Tom Natsworthy, Apprentice Historian of London & Poster Boy

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

A quick featurette that introduces Tom as he gets cast to the wilderness from the safety of London

There's a great shot of the Jenny Hanniver at the end..

Cometh the hour, cometh the woman

Monday, October 1, 2018

It rains, it pours, here's another poster for Mortal Engines.

Hester Shaw featurette

The tide has turned and the promotional material for Mortal Engines is finally starting to happen in earnest.

Here we have a short featurette of Hera Hilmar as Hester Shaw.

This is but a taste of what's hopefuly to come at Comic Con this Friday.

Hester Shaw official movie poster

hester shaw movie poster

Our gal Hester Shaw featuring in her own poster for Mortal Engines.

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