One of the interesting things about Jaguar’s Mortal Engines concept design project is that he has only read the first book, so he doesn’t know any of the backstory and extra details which I developed in Predator’s Gold, Infernal Devices, A Darkling Plain and the Fever Crumb series. His version of the development of Traction Cities, which I posted here a few days ago, isn’t quite the same as my version, with the Nomad Empires and their motorised castles inspiring the development of London. And his version of Airhaven has a different history, too, which results in a rather different looking structure from the one I described in the book. Jaguar says that he imagined the people of Airhaven didn’t have the technology to float their entire city, so they modularised it and got the various bits airborne one by one.
As with many of the images he’s shown me, I don’t mind admitting that his version is much more visually interesting than mine.
Here are three of his sketches and one big, breathtaking painting (which you can click to enlarge). The text is the ‘official’ history of Airhaven as recounted by Jeremy Levett and I in our patchily-available e-book The Traction Codex.
Airhaven was a flying town at which airships from all over the world could dock to trade, provision and refuel. It inhabited a curious middle-ground in the long feud between Traction and Anti-Traction, enjoying friendly relations with all both the League and the major towns and cities of the Hunting Ground; although very definitely a mobile city, it was not technically a Traction City and caused no damage; its existence was thus not an affront to Anti-Tractionists.
It began as one of many caravanserais built among the high passes of the Shatterlands to cater to airships making the journey from the Middle Sea to the Hunting Ground. As the air-trade developed, these competing caravanserais moved further and further up the mountainsides (air-traders always preferred to anchor at the highest ones rather than waste gas, fuel and time descending to those at lower levels). This stepping-stone contest of climbing hill-towns went on for many decades, and did not stop when the caravanserais eventually ran out of mountain; they attached gas-balloons and large tethers so that their establishments could actually hang in the sky above their mountaintops, to be hauled down to safety in poor weather. Airhaven was the first to take this process to its logical conclusion by attaching engines and cutting its tethers, becoming, in effect, a gigantic, slow-moving airship.
A number of other towns followed its lead, including Kipperhawk and Stratosphereham, but by 1000 TE Airhaven was the only one left, the others having variously drifted into volcanic ash-clouds, crashed or found themselves undone by the unfortunate combination of flammable gasbags and drunken Tractionist-versus-Anti-Tractionist gunfights.
Thanks to everyone who has already downloaded The Traction Codex. If you like it, please spread the word. I shall be posting a few of the pictures from it here over the coming days – I did them really big, but the versions in the e-book are tiny, for some reason, so I thought it would be nice to show them off in all their cross-hatchy glory. Here’s my sketch of Tunbridge Wheels to be going on with…
And here’s a blog on the subject by my co-author and ace technical/historical/military advisor Jeremy Levett.
Like many other people (but not enough yet) I’ve made a donation on their Indiegogo page. But while the rewards they’re offering contributors all look highly desirable to a dyed-in-the-wool fan like me, I thought it might be worth adding some of my own. So if a signed photo of Clive Swift isn’t enough to get you hitting the ‘Contribute Now’ button, you can claim signed editions of my books or a piece of my original artwork as well.
All you need to do is make a contribution via the aforementioned Indiegogo page, then forward a copy of your receipt to me at email@example.com. I’ll then get the item to you as quickly as possible by standard post (air mail if you’re outside the UK).
I do realise that this a bad time of year to be running this – I can’t guarantee posting anything in time for Christmas now, and if you’re anything like me your credit card has just melted from prezzie-buying – but the Indiegogo campaign runs till the 15th January, so hopefully there will be some takers.
I have four items on offer, and they’ll be dished out on a strictly first-come, first-served basis.
UPDATE: All these items have now been sold. Thanks very much to all the generous people who donated to Mossy Hare. I’ll be doodling, signing and mailing the books early in the New Year.
1. Sorry: SOLD! Goblins and Goblins vs Dwarves, signed and doodled in.
You may have to wait a while for delivery, because my new book Goblins vs Dwarves is so new that it isn’t actually out until next spring (I’d hope to have copies by March). I’ll sign them, dedicate them if you like, and draw an original Reeve goblin (or dwarf) on the title pages.
It’s yours for a donation of $25 or more.
2. Sorry – SOLD!
The Mortal Engines Quartet (AKA Predator Cities), US editions, signed and doodled in.
Unfortunately the only spare copies I have of the UK edition are the new ones with the sub-X-Box covers which nobody likes. But the US paperbacks are lovely (though UK readers should be warned that the spellings have been Americanised, and they call Shrike ‘Grike’).
These four are the only signed copies currently in existence, and if you like I’ll do a quick doodle of a character of your choice in each book.
Minimum donation of $50
3. Sorry – SOLD! Fever Crumb 1st Edition hardback, signed and doodled in.
As with the books above, I’ll draw a character of your choice on the title page. Unlike the ones above it’s a hardback, with a fantastic David Wyatt cover complete with peek-a-boo hole which opens to reveal a huge landscape on the endpapers. It’s also a first edition. It’s therefore quite collectable, and a bit more expensive.
Minimum donation $100
4. Sorry – SOLD! A pen-and-ink drawing of London
Last year Scholastic asked myself and Jeremy Levett to write a short guide to the world of Mortal Engines, which we called The Traction Codex. I think you can find it attached as a sort of appendix to the ends of the current UK e-book editions, and I’m assured that it will eventually be available as a separate e-book (although it seems to be taking a bizarrely long time and there is still no firm publication date as yet).
Anyway, I did some illustrations for this project, and this is one of them: the only time I’ve managed to draw the Traction City of London and make it look even remotely like the thing that was in my mind’s eye when I wrote the book. It measures approximately 24.5 x 18.5 cm, and it took flippin’ ages, so I don’t part with it lightly. I had planned to have it on my office wall, but I’d rather see Behind the Sword in the Stone finished, so I’ll exchange it for a whoppingly generous donation of $800 (about 500 of your British Pounds).
LATE EXTRA: Sorry: SOLD
For $75 you can have Four Rusty Knights, a very old picture by me. Details here.
Please don’t approach the Mossy Hare people with queries about these – this is my own initiative, and I’m sure they have enough on their minds already! All queries should be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org. I try to check messages there at least once a day, and will reply as soon as possible.