Traction Cities are vast metropolises built on tiers that move on gigantic wheels or caterpillar tracks. These cities hunt smaller cities (in order to tear them apart for resources and fuel) which in turn hunt towns which in turn hunt villages and static settlements. This practice is known as Municipal Darwinism, which was created by Nicholas Quirke and is based on the evolutionary theories of the ancient philosopher Charles Darwin.


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Manchester being destroyed by ODIN

Traction Cities range in size from enormous metropolises (or Urbivores) with populations of millions, to tiny villages and hamlets propelled by small engines or even sails. Airships have become the most common method of transport in this new era, as they are the only practical way to travel between cities - actual heavier-than-air aeroplanes became an extinct technology after the Sixty Minute War (although the technology was rediscovered during either Fever Crumb's time and the war between the Traktionstadtsgesellschaft and Green Storm, it was never mentioned to be used for anything other than fighting aircraft).


Sketch by Philip Reeve

Larger cities are usually built on tiers similar to a wedding cake, with the poorer classes living on the lower tiers amongst the tracks and engines, and the higher classes living in mansions and villas at the top of the city. An exception to this is the Ice City Arkangel: as well as being divided into tiers, there is an outer "shell" and an inner area close to the engines. The poorer classes live on the outside of the city, while the rich live on the inside where it is warmer. 

Most cities are urbivorous, and have attachments called "Jaws" to catch prey and drag them into the Gut. Here the prey is stripped, melted down and used as fuel, or simply as spare building materials and other salvageable resources, for the predator city's benefit. Its inhabitants of the captured domain, of course, are first safely extracted and integrated into the population of the predator city, or, in less ethical cities, taken as slaves.

Not all cities are predatory, however; some (notably Anchorage and Airhaven) are peaceful and make a living by trading. Smaller towns and hamlets (like Speedwell and Stayns) are also often peaceful and survive by trading or mining. Sometimes smaller towns meet in gatherings to trade known as "trading clusters."

Types of Traction CitiesEdit


  • Predator - Most Traction Cities are Predators, Cities that hunt others for fuel using their Jaws
  • Mining - Cities that mine for resources, to be burned for fuel or traded
  • Scavenger - Smaller towns or Suburbs that take from already-captured City wreckage
  • Pack Predators - Often Suburbs that work together to bring down larger Cities. They also could be working for other Cities, in the case of Harrowbarrow and Manchester
  • Trading - Towns that trade for fuel with others at Trading Clusters
  • Harvesters, cut down trees for fuel, largely extinct due to most trees on the Great Hunting Ground being already cut down by harvesters in the third traction age.

Raft CitiesEdit

  • Predator - similar to most traction cities, however the means as to how raft cities hunt or eat other raft cities has not been explored.
  • Pack Predators
  • Trading
  • Fishing - So named because of their primary export being fish.
  • Pleasure - Brighton being the chief example, as a pleasure resort and tourist destination for other cities, attracting wealth and culture.


  • Airhaven - Uses gas-filled balloons to stay in the air. Primarily neutral.


Traction Cities were first formed by Movement Land Admiral Nicholas Quirke, who was inspired by the ideas of the Scriven leader Auric Godshawk who invented huge engines capable of moving large cities. Quirke had to move the city to escape from attackers such as the nomads and also so he could use the moving city to hunt for prey. After the devastation of the Sixty Minute War, the world collapsed into a post apocalyptic state, and immense geological upheaval (such as earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes and glaciers) threatened the world's surviving cities.

In order to survive, urban areas were mobilized into vast vehicles that could evade dangerous areas. Naturally this required vast amounts of fuel, and as the earth became stripped of its natural resources, cities resorted to the practice of Municipal Darwinism and began to consume each other for energy. Before the age of the Traction Era, other moving buildings had been created. Around the time of Fever Crumb, the Northern Nomads used moving fortresses.

The Traction Cities were soon opposed by the Anti-Traction League, based in Central Asia, which sought to return the Earth to its former state and viewed the inhabitants of the cities as barbarians and savages. Conversely, the Traction Cities also view the Anti-Tractionists as barbarians.

Behind the scenesEdit

Traction cities in the books are often named after cities in the real world, such as London, Brighton, Anchorage, Paris, or Manchester, and sometimes their names have been slightly modified for comedic effect; for example, Tunbridge Wells has been renamed 'Tunbridge Wheels' and Wolverhampton has become 'Wolverinehampton'. This implies the current traction cities were adapted from older static settlements. Philip Reeve stated that when coming up with the concept he was inspired by how his home town of Brighton was "expanding and swallowing up the smaller towns and villages around".

List of Traction Cities and TownsEdit