I'd heard a little bit about Mechanica, enough to be intrigued. The cover is entrancing. I knew it was a picture book but for older kids, so I ordered a copy and sent it to a nephew, and then used some of my time during the Christmas break to read it.
The copy I'd seen didn't have the subtitle a beginner's field guide, otherwise I might have been expecting a field guide format, instead of a more straight forward narrative. Mechanica has a great concept. It is the 23rd century. The worlds environment has been destroyed by our own stupidity and Mechanica have been created by man- robotic life-forms created by humans to replace extinct species- butterflies, bats, birds, snakes, spiders, bees. The illustrations are beautiful and totally cool.
Mechanics were originally displayed in zoos and small sanctuaries for public enjoyment, but soon they began to escape their enclosures and cross-breed with damaged drones. As a child Liberty Crisp saw one of the last butterflies in existence, she was to become fascinated by Mechanica.
Mechanica is a field guide from the future. There will be lots more to come from the very imaginative Lance Balchin. A second picture book called Aquatica will be published in March, and a series of novels- The Mechanica Chronicles, detailing the voyages of Liberty Crisp on her ship the HMS Beagle is on the way. It will be a fascinating journey.
There is a great Mechanica website giving a glimpse of how Lance Balchin creates his amazing illustrations. Be sure to watch the videos.
Betterreading have a fascinating interview with Lance where he talks about his many inspirations.