Philip reeve returns to the literary world of Mortal Engines
When Philip Reeve visited the Mortal Engines film set in New Zealand, it didn’t just demonstrate to him how his 2001 novel was being translated onto the big screen. It also provided the inspiration for his new short story collection. Set in the same postapocalyptic world, Night Flights was inspired by a conversation the author had with Jihae, who plays rebel aviator Anna Fang.
“Jihae was lovely, and she will be superb as Anna,” says Reeve. “But it made me wish there was more of her in the book, as she was so strong that I ended up slightly sidelining her so that the younger characters have to take charge of things. So when my publishers Scholastic wanted to republish a longish short story called ‘traction City’, which I first wrote as a World Book Day book a few years ago, I thought it would be a chance to put Anna at the centre of things.”
Having extensively revised the original version, “traction City” is now the second of Night Flight’s three stories. “It’s set aboard the traction City of London and features a young and rather angry Anna, who is now at the heart of the action,” explains Reeve. ”I’ve also written a new story called ‘Frozen Heart’, about how Anna escaped from the slave-holds of Arkangel – events which are referred to several
times in the Mortal Engines quartet, but this is the first time the truth has been revealed! the third story, ‘terth Of the Sea’, has an older Anna working as an intelligence agent for the Anti-traction League and encountering a new type of predator town.” Reeve has also collaborated with Jeremy Levett on The Illustrated World Of Mortal Engines, a visual guide to Mortal Engines that’s based on the encyclopedia-esque traction Codex that the pair released online a few years ago. It’s lavishly illustrated by Aedel Fakhrie, Ian McQue, Philip Varbanov, Amir Zand, David Wyatt and Rob turpin and with maps by Lowtuff and Maxime Plasse. In Reeve’s words, it answers questions such as ‘Mobile cities – how is that even a thing?’ “It’s been a great way of expanding the Mortal Engines world and filling in a lot of history which the novels only hint at,” he continues. “It also gives a glimpse at how traction Cities have developed in places my heroes have never visited. Places like South America and Australia. And there are quite a lot of puns as well!” Stephen Jewell
Night Flights and The Illustrated World Of Mortal Engines are out now.