↠ What are 'Stalkers' in Mortal Engines?

Monday, April 5, 2021

What are the Stalker Soldiers in Mortal Engines?

CAUTION: EPIC SPOILERS BELOW FOR BOTH BOOK AND FILM


The Stalkers of Mortal Engines are a kind of 'universal soldier' combatant that can be programmed for warfare and assassination.

Stalkers and their variations play various parts in each of Philip Reeve's Quartet of Mortal Engines, Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain.

What are the origins of the Stalkers?


Stalkers originally were designed as mechanisms for humans to transfer their consciousness from one body to another, thus defeating death. The human mind could literally be saved to hard drive and then transferred into the body of another human.

It was long after the events of 60 Minute War that 'old technology; was adapted to make Stalkers into emotionless monsters to serve at the whim of their masters.

Often referred to as 'Resurrected Men' Stalkers were originally were built by the Nomadic Empires that battled each other across the volcano maze of what was once Europe long before the Traction Cities Era began.

The Nomadic Empires built Stalkers by recovering dead bodies from the battlefields, placing them in laboratories and then bringing them back 'life' by using 'Old Tech' machines that were physically connected to the dead body's nervous system. This practiced continued on unto the Traction City Era.

The bodies were also operated on so internal organs were no longer necessary. The designers also would graft on a metal carapace to the body. Weapons could be implanted into the body and the use of claws was a common feature. 

In the film, Shrike did not have claws, whereas he did in the novel.

The best subjects were taller specimens and they looked a scary sight with their glowing green eyes that all Stalkers had.

Stalkers are generally considered emotionless automatons, only acting at the will of their Masters.

Once a dead human is resurrected as a Stalker, they have no feelings, display no emotions and they will not have any memory of who they were before they died. Any past memories are jumbled messes and lost glimpses of their former life.

In Mortal Engines, the City of London manufactures its own Stalkers.

The London Guild of Engineers builds new Stalkers from dead prison convicts at their experimental prison in the Deep Gut. These particular Stalkers are not considered as refined as the infamous 'Shrike' due to the use of less sophisticated stalker-brains, the devices used in the brains and nerves of Stalkers.

The origins of these Resurrected Men, begin to be explained in the first prequel in the Mortal Engines series, Fever Crumb. Scrivener's Moon expands on the details as well,

shrike grike mortal engines
Shrike was played in the film by Stephen Lang.


What is the Shrike in Mortal Engines?


The 'Shrike' was the first Stalker to be mentioned in the original Mortal Engines book.

His character was under the control of the Mayor of London Traction City, Magnus Chrome. Chrome used the Shrike to find Hester Shaw and Tom Natsworthy and he was ordered to kill them.

At face value, this seemed a straightforward plot point however it was later revealed that The Shrike had once looked after Hester in a past life.

Due to his emotionally retarded state, his own goal in life was to turn Hester into a Stalker like himself, so they could live together forever.

In terms of memory retention, Shrike appears to be the exception to the rule as was able to recall his past life as 'Kit Solent' shortly before his death at the hands of Tom Natsworthy by sword. Kit Solent's tale and how he became a Stalker of the Lazarus Brigade was covered in the prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

In the film Shrike is played by veteran actor Stephan Lang - you may remember him as the evil general in Avatar.

>> Stuck for yeast when making beer? You can ferment your beer with baker's yeast! <<

Are Stalkers invulnerable?


Stalkers are heavily protected by their armour and but vulnerable to small arms fire and hand-held weaponry.

Due to their 'programming' they do not feel any pain as their nervous systems are rendered. This means they are pretty handy in hand to hand combat as even if their opponent is able to stab them or cause injury, they will not feel it and be able to continue to fight and thus increasing their chances of winning.

In Mortal Engines, Tom Natsworthy did manage to kill the Shrike Stalker with a sword by impaling it through his neck. The Shrike was however suffering from some performance issues as he'd actually been run over by a Traction City!

hester and shrike

But there's a reason Stalkers are known as Resurrected Men....

Anna Fang as a Stalker in the sequel novels


In Mortal Engines, Anna Fang was Tom and Hester's rescuer from the Shrike when he originally caught up with them on Airhaven.

Despite her heroics, Fang was ultimately killed by the dastardly Thaddeus Valentine in a sword fight.

In Predator's Gold it was revealed that a splinter group of the famed Anti Traction League called Green Storm had recovered Fang's body and applied the Stalker Resurrection techniques to it.

Green Storm had intended that the revived Anna Fang would lead them in battle against the remaining Traction Cities.

Eventually, the resurrected Fang stalker would take part in many battles and features in Infernal Devices and A Darkling Plain where her character wreaks some pretty spectacular havoc using the ODIN device.

The Shrike concept art from Mortal Engines
Shrike fan art


Extra for Experts (spoilers):

Shrike Tattoo from Mortal Engines

Sunday, April 4, 2021

 

shrike-tattoo-mortal-engines

We all know Shrike, we've read about him, watched him and now you can regard him on Followthewhiterarebit's skin art.


We think this may be the only Mortal Engines tattoo that's been shared to the internet. A quick google search does not reveal a single one!


Fever Crumb's original cover appears to be the inspiration for the Shrike design:

fever crumb book coer

Fever Crumb was the first prequel novel to Philip Reeve's classic Mortal Engines series, we gave it a fairly favourable review back in the day.

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

Sunday, March 21, 2021
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

Wednesday, February 17, 2021
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...

The long and complicated relationship of Hester Shaw and Shrike

Saturday, February 13, 2021

What is the relationship between Shrike and Hester Shaw?


Absolute book and film spoilers follow.

There are plenty of dysfunctional relationships in this world.

The Clintons.

Tom and Jerry.

Henry VIII & Anne Boleyn.

Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala.

Pineapple on pizza.

And then we have the relationship of Hester Shaw and Shrike.

Where do we start?

The beginning you say. But what is the beginning?

When we are introduced to Shrike in the Mortal Engines novel he is presented as Resurrected Man, a man turned into a robot killer using the technology of the ancients.

And he's been sent by Thaddeus Valentine and Magnus Chrome to kill Hester Shaw.

That's not a relationship, that's the Terminator chasing Sarah O'Conner kind of nightmare Hester is suddenly faced with.

But let's take a step back.

shrike mortal engines film


When Hester was about seven years old, Valentine attacked her parents, specifically her mother Pandora, in order to obtain MEDUSA. Suddenly she is orphaned and scarred for life both figuratively and literally.

As fate would have it, it was Shrike who found her post her escape from Valentine and this is where the long and complicated relationship begins.

Shrike was the one to continue to raise Hester. That's right, this cold, monstrous killing machine, thought to be completely dehumanized still had a heart.

In some kind of confused 'Tin Man following the Yellow Brick Road looking for a heart' concept, he cared for Hester while they lived on a traction town called Strole.

In later years, Hester leaves Shrike to begin her epic adventure to kill Thaddeus Valentine.

This depresses the dead guy somewhat as Hester is really the only thing in this world that he loves.

But why is this?

It's only briefly alluded to in the first novel but before he was turned into a Stalker, he was Kit Solent. This man was the very loving father of two children. His tale was expanded on greatly in the first prequel novel, Fever Crumb.

The Shrike we meet in Mortal Engines has managed to contain some of his human essence, his paternal nature. Hester thus serves as his replacement family.

Things then get a bit more complicated.

Even though Shrike acts under orders from London to kill Hester, he wants to kill her ANY WAY so that he can turn her into a Stalker like himself so they can both live together happily for ever as a family.

Yes, you read that right.

This mentality culminates in a confrontation wherein Hester actually agrees to this plan so that Tom's life may be spared.

How does that turn your traction wheels? 

What kind of oil to you think Shrike would use? The best chainsaw oil perhaps?

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 based in Wellington to bring it to life for the silver screen. 

This featurette highlights the work that concept art Nick Keller of Weta Workshop, put into the design of Mortal Engines.

Is Nick the new Doug Chiang?

He's paid his dues having taken a turn 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

Here's Airhaven:

airhaven concept art mortal engines


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....

London is officially 2.5 km long!

Monday, January 11, 2021
london traction city schematic

How long is the traction city of London in Mortal Engines?


If you've ever read the Mortal Engines book and wondered how long the traction city of London officially is then the movie version has you covered.

This schematic shows London is 2.5 kilometers long! Big wheels keep on turning...
Powered by Blogger.
Back to Top