Peter Jackson Developing Mortal Engines

Moving cities arrive in Wellington

Wellington's Dominion Post, a newspaper published in the New Zealand home of Peter Jackson's Wingnut Films and the Weta Workshop, has broken the news that Jackson and Weta are working on adaptations of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines quartet (known as The Hungry City Chronicles in the US: so let's hope we get to keep the UK titles and there's none of that Golden Compass nonsense).

Reeve's series of children's novels takes place in a steampunk post-apocalyptic future where cities are mobile and perambulate the planet devouring each other for fuel: a system amusingly called Municipal Darwinism. The St Paul's Cathedral-topped London is the strongest of these Traction Cities, in a world where "old tech" is extremely sought after.

The first novel, Mortal Engines itself, in a very small nutshell, involves an assassination attempt within the Historians Guild; the challenging of apprentice Historian Tom Natsworthy's value system, when he gets stranded overboard his beloved London with the revenge-bent Hester Shaw; and the Terminator-ish "stalker" Shrike (Grike if you're American) who's on their trail. Mortal Engines is followed by Predator's Gold, Infernal Devices, A Darkling Plain and the prequel Fever Crumb.

The film series is in early development, according to The Post, with design work on the moving cities underway at Weta. A spokesman for Peter Jackson declined to comment, deferring to Jackson himself. But crucially, he denied nothing. Jackson is understood to have been sitting on the option for the books for some time.

Whether Jackson will want to direct the series or just produce, remains to be seen. With fingers in the pies of The Hobbit, Tintin, The Dambusters, Temeraire, and Halo, we wonder when he'd find the time to do either.