On Sodor, the steam trains engage in constant competition for big jobs, more work, and the Fat Controller’s approval. Anthropomorphized trains in literature tend to be hard workers, but one Tumblr thread holds that Thomas and friends have other motivations. The show “canonically takes place in a train post-apocalypse where the Island of Sodor is the only safe zone in a totalitarian dystopia in which steam trains are routinely killed and their body parts are sold or cannibalized for repair,” a Tumblr user named frog-and-toad-are-friends argues, citing one of Awdry’s books, “Stepney the ‘Bluebell’ Engine.” In that book, a green train named Percy expresses his fear of the “Other Railway,” which is what British Railways, the United Kingdom’s nationalized rail company, is called on Sodor: “ ‘Engines on the Other Railway aren’t safe now. Their controllers are cruel. They don’t like engines anymore. They put them on cold damp sidings, and then,’ Percy nearly sobbed, ‘they . . . they c-c-cut them up.’ ” (The accompanying illustration features two terrified trains facing dismemberment, and, behind them, a train with a chilling black void where its face used to be.) Another Tumblr user replies, “Maybe that’s just what Railway Management wants the engines to think.” And, in fact, it does seem that the Fat Controller maintains authoritarian rule through disinformation. In the foreword to the book, Awdry clarifies that British Railways actually supports the preservation of steam engines. It’s just a little joke that Percy fears for his life! (If you need some cheering up after this investigation, I recommend “Goths Rave to Thomas the Tank Engine,” a mashup that makes use of the show’s iconic transition music and has accumulated more than three million views.)