Very Large Structure - A Megamachine

Very Large Structure is a proposal by Manuel Domínguez for a mobile land management mega-machine for Castile and León in Spain.


(A very large structure)

It's a walking city, for want of a better term, though rather than conceived as a global wanderer perpetually moving on to greener pastures, the VLS remains in basically the same place to tend to and improve the pastures that it's got...

I want to quickly invoke the opening line of Philip Reeve's Mortal Engines, the first in a quartet of novels about walking cities (on tracts, like the VLS) in a resource-depleted future preying on smaller walking cities and their supplies, literally swallowing them whole when caught —
a very large structure

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.

In happier times, London would never have bothered with such feeble prey. The great Traction City had once spent its days hunting far bigger towns than this, ranging north as far as the edge of the Ice Wastes and south to the shores of the Mediterranean. But lately prey of any kind had started to grow scarce, and some of the larger cities had begun to look hungrily at London...

...lookouts on the high watchtowers spied the mining town, gnawing at the salt flats twenty miles ahead... [the] mining town saw the danger and turned tail, but already the huge caterpillar tracks under London were starting to roll fostering faster. Soon the city was lumbering in hot pursuit, a moving mountain of metal which rose in seven tiers like layers of a wedding cake, the lower levels wreathed in engine smoke, the villas of the rich gleaming white on the higher decks, and above it all the cross on top of St Pauls Cathedral glinting gold, 2000 feet above the ruined earth.


(Traction city)


Traction Cities from Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

For a much earlier take on the basic idea, see the steam-powered houses from Henry Loudon's 1828 classic The Mummy! A Tale of the Twenty-Second Century.

Update 11-Feb-2013: See also this cover art from the novel Inverted World by Christopher Priest. In the novel, Helward Mann lives in a city called "Earth", a giant structure that is slowly winched along on a set of tracks forever northward.


(Inverted World cover art)

Thanks to GwenH for writing in with this reference. End update.

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