I attempted to destroy Lavie Tidhar’s brain yesterday by affirming that, yes, THOMAS THE TANK ENGINE is a dystopia, and in fact is a post-nuclear-apocalypse story about the Strategic Reserve ghost fleet.
The Strategic Reserve is one of Britain’s finer urban myths. It holds that a ghost fleet of pristine steam locomotives is stored in a secret base under Box Tunnel, in the west of England, ready to be deployed on the rails in the event of nuclear EMP frying the electric lines. In the aftermath of atomic war, the steam trains would roll out of Box Tunnel to serve the survivors, eating fire and breathing soot.
Box Tunnel has its own myth. Designed by Brunel, dug out by thousands of workers who burned one ton of candles a week to light their way, it is said the tunnel is angled so that the sun can be seen to rise through its portals on Brunel’s birthday, April 9.
I used Box Tunnel in my second James Bond graphic novel, EIDOLON. Charlie Stross used the Strategic Reserve in THE RHESUS CHART, I think.