Imagine this walking machine chasing you across the battlezone, gears baying for your blood. Here's an exclusive look at this chilling contraption from Scott Westerfeld's alternate history Leviathan. See the whole thing, plus the real-life prototype it's based on, below.
Westerfeld's nove, which comes out in 26 days according to his handy countdown clock, includes fantastic killing machines used by the Clankers in an alternate World War I. (We showed you the trailer the other day.) And according to Westerfeld, the killing machine you see above was designed by artist Keith Thompson based on a real-life Italian walker:
With a normal illustrated book, the text is completed before the artist starts work. We wanted to make it a more collaborative process, however, with the art feeding back into the text. Besides, given that Leviathan has 50 illustrations, Keith had to begin long before I was finished, or it would knock back our publishing schedule a year or so.
So he wound up working only a few chapters behind me—like a comic book, with the artist a few issues behind the writer. And at one point I got stuck in the narrative and said, "Hey, something's going to chase them in Chapter 18, but I don't know what. How about you draw it, and I'll write it in?"
Keith is a great researcher, and he uncovered this vintage image of a 1920s Italian walking machine prototype. I doubt it ever worked in reality, but we decided it would be cool to do a 1914 German adaptation of it. Sort of a horse-inspired walker, which looked fast enough to give our heros a run for their money.
And here's a bigger version of the above image, plus a comparison of Thompson's amazing German walker with the real-life Italian prototype: