Heterocosms of Machinic Desire: Philip Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet as Propulsive Dystopia
journal contributionposted on 13.12.2018 by Adam Lovasz
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Dystopian literature directed at teenage audiences has attracted much attention. Early twenty-first century global society and literature are pervaded by the sense that, to quote Philip Reeve, “the worst is yet to come.” Reeve’s Mortal Engines Quartet addresses precisely such concerns. In my study, I focus upon the predatory mobile cities represented in the novels as constituting independent self-organising agents of deterritorialisation. Inverting Alfredo Bonanno’s idea of “propulsive utopia,” I propose a reading of the Mortal Engines Quartet as a propulsive dystopia already in the process of enactment. A specifically posthumanist reading would focus upon the nonhuman desires embodied by cities and cyborgs alike. “Traction Cities,” far from encapsulating evolutionary dead ends, actually represent the possibility of a completely deterritorialised subjectivity, an “asignifying faciality” to use Félix Guattari’s expression. These monsters of globalisation represent a line of flight we ourselves may follow, leading to an affirmation of asubjectivity.