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Mortal Engines (Mortal Engines, #1)
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Mortal Engines > ME: references and Easter eggs

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Trike | 8934 comments Just after Anna Fang is introduced, she rattles off a bunch of things about her airship, the Jenny Hanover. (After Tom exclaims, “It’s made out of junk!” which is clearly a Luke Skywalker reference.)

She says it has “twin Jeunet-Caro engines off a Paris gunship”, which made me laugh out loud. Jean-Pierre Jeunet and Marc Caro are French writers/directors who have made amazing SFF films such as Delicatessen, Amelie, and, to be super on-the-nose, a steampunk Fantasy film The City of Lost Children. In the trailer you will see images and scenes which clearly inspired this book: https://youtu.be/CNYG9cXTSds

The name “Jenny Haniver” tripped my memory, too, but I didn’t know why. Turns out I read about it in a book about sideshow scams and scientific hoaxes, such as the famous Piltdown Man. A “Jenny Haniver” is a dried ray cut to resemble a dragon: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jenny...

Which got me to wondering about other things she says about her ship. A search on “Spitzbergen war balloon” didn’t offer up anything, but it turns out that “Shan Guo”, aside from being the name of some actual Chinese people, is a Chinese phrase meaning “to dodge (away from pursuers)”. Which is what they’re doing in that scene. Maybe that’s why Reeve picked that name for those cities, as a sort of pun, since they are anti-Traction stationary cities.

For me, these fall into the category of homages rather than rip-offs, because he’s jamming a bunch of them together in the same paragraph, like a nudge-nudge-wink-wink.

Anyone found others?


message 2: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4265 comments Just hit that section. Perhaps it's too obvious, but I also would note "Airsperanto," the common language of the airways. After Esperanto, the artificial common language.

No sign of whether or not one of the characters might fall into Desperanto, which was described to me by an student of Esperanto as the state in which one can no longer find the necessary Esperanto words to be understood.


Trike | 8934 comments John (Taloni) wrote: "Just hit that section. Perhaps it's too obvious, but I also would note "Airsperanto," the common language of the airways. After Esperanto, the artificial common language."

Oh yeah, I forgot about that one!


message 4: by William (last edited Jul 08, 2018 02:09AM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

William | 434 comments I seem to remember spotting quite a few "homages" through the book, though I can't seem to remember them right now.

The one that I do remember is the "Tannhauser fire-mountains" which are mentioned a few times.

Mr Reeve may be an opera fan, but I think he may be giving Mr Roy Batty from Blade Runner a nod.

Of course there is a lot of fun with place names, the most obvious (and fun) being Tunbridge Wheels. As I'm currently visiting London I couldn't help chuckling upon catching only the end of a train station announcement that seemed to warn me that "Tunbridge Wells" was now departing.


Phil | 1182 comments As T&V mention in the latest podcast and I thought at the time, Shrike kept bringing up memories of The Shrike from Hyperion.


message 6: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4265 comments Okay, two more before last night's reading fades:

* The ship "My Shirona" for My Sharona from The Knack.

* In his (earlier) youth The MC mocks the Shrike or the group he came from (can't remember) by walking around with his arms flailing, saying "ex-ter-min-ate!" Guess some memory of Dr. Who still exists in that London.


Trike | 8934 comments Dangit, I need to read faster. I was about to post those two.

Along with My Shirona, there’s also the Idiot Wind, which is a Bob Dylan song. (Which is 45 years old now, but I’ve been associating it with a certain orange Commander-in-Cheese lately.) Plus the Invisible Worm, which comes from a William Blake poem:

O Rose thou art sick.
The invisible worm,
That flies in the night
In the howling storm:

Has found out thy bed
Of crimson joy:
And his dark secret love
Does thy life destroy.

All of which I suspect is Reeve being cute and telegraphing character and plot points. The lyrics of the Dylan song sure sound like Valentine and Crome to me.

I also liked that one of airships is Mokele Mbembe, a reference to the African version of the Loch Ness Monster, but the description of which sounds amazingly like a sauropod dinosaur like Brontosaurus. Dinosaurs, “survival of the fastest”, extinction... hmm. (There was a 1985 movie titled Baby: Secret of the Lost Legend based on the mokele mbembe story, which was all the rage in the early 80s. https://youtu.be/Wy58kS1Deb4)

The only one I didn’t recognize was Garden Aeroplane Trap, but a search turns up a 1935 Max Ernst surrealist painting, “Garden Airplane-Trap” and a 1986 song based on it called “Garden Aeroplane Trap” by The Bevis Frond, which sounds like the painting looks, and would actually be a good theme for Grike. It’s a sort of heavy metal jazz mash-up. https://bevisfrond.bandcamp.com/track...


John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1649 comments I guess we are all near the same spot. I was trying to figure out if “Nils Lindstrom” was supposed to be a take on Charles Lindbergh, and Neil Armstrong, or just a name he thought sounded cool and aeronautic.


message 9: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4265 comments Okay, one more.

Tesla guns - these are clearly electrical discharge weapons named after Nikola Tesla. Less a reference than a namesake, although perhaps less obvious since Elon Musk has been using the name.

Two that made me wonder but I can't say for sure:

Chrysler Peavey (PV): Sounds like a car, maybe an electric car, but Google has nothing. Between Tesla and this I was trying to make a connection, but can't find anything.

Bevis Pod: Made me think of Beavis and Butthead.

As for the Shrike, yeah, made me think of Hyperion. But it's a fairly common term.


message 10: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (new) - rated it 3 stars

Tassie Dave | 3675 comments Mod
John (Taloni) wrote: "As for the Shrike, yeah, made me think of Hyperion. But it's a fairly common term. "

He named it after the bird.

Originally he had named the character Shreck after Max Schreck who played the original 1922 Nosferatu, but changed it after hearing that the animated cartoon Shrek was coming out.

Apparently he is called Grike in some US versions of the book :-?

Philip Reeve discusses some of the inspirations for his book here: (Minor spoilers)
https://www.mortalenginesmovie.com/20...


message 11: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4265 comments ^Thanks TD, I shall check that out once I'm done with the book.

In the meantime, speculation continues on... :)

The doctor, Nazghul, is an obvious riff on LOTR. But it isn't really a reference since he's not a rider, or dark, or possessed. Or a rock and roll singer, if we were doing reference within a reference to GRR Martin's "Armageddon Rag."

Anyhoo, worth a quick chuckle on spotting it in the text.


Trike | 8934 comments Tassie Dave wrote: "Apparently he is called Grike in some US versions of the book :-?"

I was wondering about that, as he’s Grike in the library book I have. Since it’s a first edition from 2001, I assumed he must have changed the name for some reason in later editions. US v. UK didn’t occur to me.


message 13: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 1249 comments Reeve loves his musical references. Valentine’s airship, The 13th Floor Elevator, is named after a 60s psychedelic rock band.
The Tannhauser thing could indeed be a reference to Blade Runner, but I remember that in one of the sequels there’s a character who’s obsessed with ancient operas which are mangled versions of Wagner, so it could also be a Wagnerian reference. Or both.

Clio is the muse of history, but to British audiences the name is most familiar as a small car with an iconic series of adverts running on television throughout the 90s starring ‘Nicole’ and ‘Papa’ https://youtu.be/BswNEECWst0

Any book published in the UK 2001 would expect its readers to think of the car adverts when it mentions Clio.


Dominik (gristlemcnerd) | 132 comments I'm just guessing, but the "Panzerstadt" in Panzerstadt-Bayreuth sounds a bit like Hansestadt, which is a common part of town names in Germany and a reference to the Hanseatic League, although I can't find anything about Bayreuth ever having been part of that. Still, an organization made up of various cities and towns bonding together for mutual protection... does rather sound like what that thing is.


Trike | 8934 comments I tried looking that up, too. Eventually I stopped seeking out the references. I figured if I got them, fine; if not, also fine. Otherwise I’d end up googling the fourth definition of “mud” and wondering how that applied.


message 16: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4265 comments The artist Walmart Strange, hee hee.


message 17: by Ruth (last edited Jul 10, 2018 06:55AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 1249 comments Regarding the Spitzbergen war balloon, it might be too much of a stretch to count as a reference, but an interesting nugget nonetheless: just today in Fascinating Footnotes from History I read about this disastrous hydrogen balloon expedition over the Arctic https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/S._A....

It set off from Spitsbergen.


message 18: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 1249 comments Dominik wrote: "I'm just guessing, but the "Panzerstadt" in Panzerstadt-Bayreuth sounds a bit like Hansestadt, which is a common part of town names in Germany and a reference to the Hanseatic League, although I ca..."

I think you’re overlooking a simpler explanation: “Panzerstadt” translates from German as “tank city”.


Dominik (gristlemcnerd) | 132 comments Ruth wrote: "Dominik wrote: "I'm just guessing, but the "Panzerstadt" in Panzerstadt-Bayreuth sounds a bit like Hansestadt, which is a common part of town names in Germany and a reference to the Hanseatic Leagu..."

I mean, I know that, being German and all. Just figured there might be more than one layer to the name :P


Trike | 8934 comments Ruth wrote: "Regarding the Spitzbergen war balloon, it might be too much of a stretch to count as a reference, but an interesting nugget nonetheless: just today in [book:Fascinating Footnotes from History|26586..."

Niiice.


Trike | 8934 comments Dominik wrote: "I mean, I know that, being German and all. Just figured there might be more than one layer to the name :P "

I suppose they can’t all be gems.

Since Bayreuth is an actual town in Germany, it makes sense. The Germans and Dutch seem particularly literal when naming things, which is honestly refreshing, especially in cities. Sudenstrasse, South Street. Stadtstrasse, City Street. Easy-Peasy.


message 22: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 1249 comments Dominik wrote: "I know that, being German and all.”

Sorry Dominik, I didn’t know you’re German! (The ‘k’ at the end of your name failed to tip me off). Please feel free to German-splain the British cultural references at me in retaliation. 😂

I wonder if the choice of Bayreuth is another possible Wagnerian nod...?


Michel Avenali (readershaven) | 6 comments Not sure if this is a reference or not to anything but there was one part where someone mentioned a city called Cittamotore which is Italian for Motor City. Regardless I smiled at the idea that these languages are somehow still around in this world at least with the names of places.


message 24: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 1249 comments A fun one - Dr Twix. Twix is the name of a British chocolate bar (two chocolate-coated biscuit fingers with caramel)


message 25: by James (new)

James Ryan | 1 comments There's plenty of trivia about all the references here. I enjoyed the Happy Meal reference...


terpkristin | 4219 comments It makes no sense, but every time I hear (I’m listening to the book) about Cleo, the history deity, I think of Miss Cleo and think it’s funny the difference (or not) between looking behind and looking ahead.


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