Railhead: First Reading

In real life, it seems, trains can’t cope with heat.They have to creep along very slowly or the rails will just melt, like a Twix on a sunny windowsill.(Who knew? And however do railways manage in places like Italy and India and Japan?)


So an extra big thank you to everyone who braved the heat and the sluggish trains to come to the 1901 Arts Club in Exton Street, London on Tuesday night for the official unveiling of Railhead.The book isn’t published until October, but my publishers, OUP, are keen to let people know about it well in advance. Here are publicists Keo, Liz and Alesha, who set up the event.


They’d invited along a selection of book bloggers and young reviewers who are going to be acting as ‘Railhead Ambassadors’.Some of them were very excited…


…while others were really, really excited…


I think they’d been told to look enthusiastic by Sarah McIntyre, who had appointed herself Ambassador-in-Chief and had her own uniform and everything.You can see more of her photos of the evening over on her McIntyreBlog.


So I read them the whole first chapter and a chunk of the second. Exton Street is right next to Waterloo, and we had all the windows wide open, so appropriate sound effects were provided by trains tiptoeing gingerly in and out of the station over rails which now resembled grilled Curly-Wurlies. I’ve been making some little movies to run behind Railhead readings, so it was a good chance to try one of those out as well: here’s a version with a bit of text added (it’s still kind of abstract).

Then the audience asked some excellent questions, and went off clutching signed copies of the proof, which I hope they’ll enjoy – it’s a bit worrying, unveiling a whole new world. But I think it’s a good one: I’ve enjoyed pottering around in it for the last few years, and it’s time to let other people have a look.

When I walked back to my hotel later it was still too hot to wear a jacket, and the next day was even hotter – probably the warmest weather I can remember in this country. I plodded through the baking streets to Paddington and got on a train which carried me back to Devon at walking pace. They do these things better in the Network Empire.



  1. Stephen
    Jul 02, 2015 @ 12:21:46

    Wow looks like such fun! Might be a bit jealous I wasn’t picked. Just a tad! Looking forward to the publication


    • Philip Reeve
      Jul 02, 2015 @ 15:23:21

      Sorry, Stephen – spaces were very limited, and I think OUP chose attendees randomly. Hopefully there will be more Railhead events in future, maybe we’ll meet at one of those.


  2. Patrick
    Jul 05, 2015 @ 21:17:55

    Hi Philip,
    is “Gentlemen Take Polaroids” a reference to Japan? That`s probably a stupid question. Although I am not sure if it`s stupid because it is too obvious or too unlikely…
    Anyway. Looking forward to the release! Looks very promising!
    best, patrick


    • Philip Reeve
      Jul 05, 2015 @ 23:19:58

      Hi Patrick! Yes, it is! I’ve tried to ease up on references, but the trains in Railhead carry on the tradition I started with airships in the Mortal Engines books and mostly take their names from songs, poems, books, etc, often ones that I recall from my long-ago youth.


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