Book Review

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage Review


The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua

In The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious set of adventures

Meet two of Victorian London’s greatest geniuses… Ada Lovelace, daughter of Lord Byron: mathematician, gambler, and proto-programmer, whose writings contained the first ever appearance of general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. And Charles Babbage, eccentric inventor of the Difference Engine, an enormous clockwork calculating machine that would have been the first computer, if he had ever finished it.

But what if things had been different? The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a delightful alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and use it to create runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wider realms of mathematics and, of course, fight crime – for the sake of both London and science. Extremely funny and utterly unusual, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage comes complete with historical curiosities, extensive footnotes and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer. And ray guns.

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For all those that don’t know, I started learning how to program when I was 7-8 years old. But the fall in love with coding and diagrams and everything else only happened when I was 12-15. (I would happily stay in coding than go out during recess, my nerd flag flies high).

So of course, this book caught my eye when I was grief shock browsing Waterstones after the news of my aunt’s death. It was as if the book called my name and I happily got it.

It is a comic, not a “this is totally legit and happened” kind of book. However it is full of footnotes of the research done for the comic and the footnotes are linked to real information about their lives.

The artwork is dynamic and fun, the footnotes fill you up with information about Lovelace, Babbage and their families/lives. And it has some alternative universes shenanigans that I adored, so all in all it is a delightful read if you aren’t expecting only a graphic novel and can cope with footnotes larger than the comic on the page that will make you laugh, and want to strangle someone and at times go “oh, I didn’t know that, crazy!”.

[Also, the book underneath the book, is the book I used to learn and then teach programming].

Moon recommends

Go read about Lovelace and Babbage, or go check out Rosie Revere kind of books, or any kind of book that floats your boat!

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