Next on reading List: Mortal Engines

Following my new plan of rotating between a Booker prize winner; a novel from the reading list for my children’s course and one novel just for fun, the next novel to take its place on the bedside table is Mortal Engines. It’s by Phillip Reeve and took him more than a decade to write (he was fitting writing in with his main job as an illustrator)

I am not exactly enthused by this prospect because its science fiction or science fantasy ( I don’t really understand the difference). This is not a genre I enjoy at all. Decades ago I read some of the John Wyndham novels – particularly Day of the Triffids and the Midwich Cukoos and enjoyed those. But since then I have tried authors like Pratchett and Douglas Adams but given up very early on. I am it seems firmly in the camp of those who prefer their literature to be realist.

So Moral Engines is going to be a struggle. Apparently it is set in a post-apocalyptic world (not very original), ravaged in the past by a nuclear holocaust.  To escape the earthquakes, volcanoes and other instabilities, a Nomad leader called Nikola Quercus (why do science fiction writers insist on giving characters such stupid names), who changed his name to Nikolas Quirke (sensible man) , designed a system known as Municipal Darwinism, where entire cities essentially become immense vehicles known as Traction Cities, and must consume one another in order to maintain themselves in a world deprived of most natural resources.

To keep my sanity while reading this I might dip into something more my cup of tea – there is a collection of Guy de Maupassant short stories that have been hanging about for some time. Now could be a good time to begin reading them.


What do you need to know about me? 1. I'm from Wales which is one of the countries in the UK and must never be confused with England. 2. My life has always revolved around the written and spoken word. I worked as a journalist for nine years then in international corporate communications 3. My tastes in books are eclectic. I love realism and hate science fiction and science fantasy. 4. I am trying to broaden my reading horizons geographically by reading more books in translation

2 thoughts on “Next on reading List: Mortal Engines

  • July 12, 2012 at 6:57 pm

    Oh you have an absolute delight ahead of you. The world Reeve constructs is so original. I loved this book and I’m afraid believed that mankind was perfectly capable of going this way. If you find you don’t get on with it try his Carnegie winning novel, Here Les Arthur. It is very very good.

    • July 16, 2012 at 9:07 pm

      Well you were right – it’s quite a fun book. The science dystopian thing doesn’t really detract from the fact that this is really an adventure story.I like some of the humour also (Airsperanto the language of the people who operate flying machines was quite funny)


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