With Peter Jackson hard at work on such little projects as The Hobbit adaptation and Tintin (amongst others), it’s hard to believe he has time for anything else. And yet we get word today that Jackson may be secretly working on Mortal Engines, an adaptation of a fantasy series of novels collectively known as Mortal Engines Quartet.

The news comes from The Dominion Post, and they say Jackson is secretly working to adapt Mortal Engines, with early development already underway, bringing the first in the series of four books to the big-screen. Weta Workshops (who were responsible for the effects in Jackson’s Lord of the Rings, amongst many other things) have apparently been working on designs for the project, which is being described as “hush-hush.”

If this news is true, some people aren’t going to be happy the cat got out of the bag this early…

Jackson is understood to have had the rights to the books for some time, but he wasn’t available for comment on this. However, a spokesman for Jackson didn’t deny he was involved in developing the project, but said that, “any comment should come from Peter.”

So what’s this Mortal Engines I speak of? Well, as I said it’s the first in a series of four fantasy novels published between 2001-2006, written by Philip Reeve. It’s set in a post-apocalyptic world, “where cities have become giant vehicles and must consume each other to survive.” The main characters are a fifteen year old orphan from London (or a weird alternative version of the city, as is the setting in the book) and a young girl he meets who believes cities should stay put and not move around. The first book has won a Nestles Smarties Book Prize and was even shortlisted for the 2002 Whitbread award.

This news comes after Jackson talked a bit about his planned adaptation of Temeraire, a “dragon wars” book series which Jackson recently revealed he’s thinking about bringing to the small screen as an 8-part miniseries. And of course there’s still the aforementioned Hobbit and Tintin, as well The Lovely Bones (which just debuted in limited theatrical release). Busy man, that Peter Jackson…

Much like Temeraire, I’m not familiar with Mortal Engines but it certainly sounds like an out-there idea, something that I’d imagine would come from the mind of someone like Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle) or from a Japanese manga. I’m always happy to see fantasy novels get the big-screen treatment (when they’re done well, that is), so I’m intrigued and looking forward to what Jackson has in store for us with this one.

Do you like the sound of Mortal Engines and do you like that Peter Jackson is apparently adapting it? Anyone out there read the books, by any chance? If so, would they make decent movies?

Sources: The Dominion Post (thanks to /Film) and David Wyatt (for the Mortal Engines artwork)