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Apr 25, 2017

How Mortal Engines ripped off Star Wars and Han Solo

mortal engines anna fang han solo

Or rather how Star Wars inspired the Mortal Engines book series

Our favourite character from the first Mortal Engines novel is the Anti Tractionist, Anna Fang.

And why was this?

She just oozed coolness. 

Kind of like Han Solo but without the Wookie boyfriend. 

Writer Philip Reeve once spoke of Star Wars and the effect it had on him in terms of the cosmetic look and feel of the movie:

"The opening scenes on the desert planet, with its mud-brick spaceport and rusty hover-cars, were tremendously exciting because I suddenly saw how you could mix up elements of the past and future to make worlds of your own. So that's really where Mortal Engines comes from, it just took another twenty years to emerge!"

Given Reeve's is a bit of a literary magpie, one should not be surprised how some Star Wars then snuck into his first novel.

There's two key Star Wars inspirations.

Anna Fang is her own person much like Han Solo but the key thing that Reeve nicked from Star Wars is the similarity to the Millennium Falcon and Fang's own airship, the Jenny Hanniver:

Here's a passage from the novel:

'The ship that hung at anchor there was not the elegant sky clipper Tom had been expecting. In fact, she was little more than a shabby scarlet gasbag and a cluster of rusty engine pods bolted to a wooden gondola.

"It's made of junk!" he gasped.

"Junk?" Miss Fang laughed.

"Why, the Jenny Haniver is built from some of the finest airships that ever flew! An envelope of silicon silk from a Shan Guo clipper, twin Jeunet-Carot aero-engines off a Paris gunship, the reinforced gas cells of a Spitzbergen war balloon..."

Does that conversation sound familiar to you?

It strongly echoes what Luke Skywalker says to Han Solo in ANH to which Han retorts: "She'll make point five past lightspeed. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've made a lot of special modifications myself".

Fangs point about the make-up of her ship sounds much the same.

There's also a second key Star Wars moment in Mortal Engines and that's the beginning. Star Wars famously opens with Darth Vader's Star Destroyer pursuing Princess Leia's Corvette, The Tantive IV. It's a desperate chase, one of life and death.

So how does Mortal Engines start?

With a chase. Here's the first line:

“It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.”

London (Vader's ship) eventually catches up with the Mining Town (Leia) and consumes it for it's resources.

Different circumstances but it's the same beat. 

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