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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and…

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story… (2015)

by Sydney Padua

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(Rating: 4.0 /5.0, even) ( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
(Rating: 4.0 /5.0, even) ( )
  rabbit.blackberry | Oct 19, 2017 |
Some might say "too many [foot]notes" of this. If you're someone who gets distracted by them, you'll have to focus yourself. Good bit of whimsy and fancy in the story and the drawing: LOTS of supporting exposition, explanation, and documentation. Could be used in a history class to talk about use of primary sources. ( )
  AmyMacEvilly | Sep 1, 2017 |
Inspired to purchase off my TBR list after re-reading Gibson's & Sterling's The Difference Engine. Padua, too, thinks the difference engine is a cooler name, though both are concerned actually with Babbage's analytical engine. Padua's is a fabulist take on Gibson's & Sterling's appendix, and is itself chock-a-block with footnotes and appendices. The two works complement one another exceedingly well.

Padua's tales (more vignettes than typical stories) work best in conveying specific aspects of the Engine or the biographies of Lovelace and Babbage, in a cheeky manner but without losing the thread of their accomplishments. Without the footnotes and documentation, the comic itself would be a far lesser achievement.


Fabulism aside, Padua's documentation is detailed, I can imagine no better introduction to both the breadth of Lovelace's biography and Babbage's, as well as several of the finer details and asides. It appears Padua found a primary document unknown to scholars which she uses to claim proof of Lovelace's mathematics bona fides and of Babbage's sincere admiration for her as friend and mathematician:

The anti-Ada position, briefly, was that Babbage was never a true friend to Lovelace; that he did not think her a good mathematician; and that he must basically have written the Notes on the Engine himself. So you may imagine my very great pleasure when I stumbled across a document that contradicts every one of these points at one single stroke. [241]

The document is a letter from Henry Reed, describing a personal visit from Babbage and published in an 1867 number of Southern Review, stating explicitly that Babbage said to Reed that Lady Lovelace was the author of the only paper on the "software" for his Engine, and he admired her skills very much. There is at this time no reason at all to believe Reed would fabricate. ( )
  elenchus | Jul 17, 2017 |
So, on the one hand you have accurate historical background on Babbage and Lovelace and the work they did together.

And then there are the fantastical steampunk adventures they might have had if only they'd gotten around to making the first computer. The adventures are as heavily footnoted as the real history, so one can learn a great deal about the historical figures, the process of digging through history for evidence, and more. Great fun for all ages, although the really young would need an advanced reader to help. ( )
  Kaethe | Oct 17, 2016 |
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How, when, and where this vision occurred it is unnecessary for me at present to state.
--Charles Babbage, Passages from the Life of a Philosopher
"The wisest and the best of men, nay, the wisest and the best of their actions, may be rendered ridiculous by a person whose first object in life is a joke."
--Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice
For my mother
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It was in a pub somewhere in London in the spring of 2009 that I undertook to draw a very short comic for the web, to illustrate the very brief life of Ada Lovelace.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307908275, Hardcover)

THE THRILLING ADVENTURES OF LOVELACE AND BABBAGE . . . in which Sydney Padua transforms one of the most compelling scientific collaborations into a hilarious series of adventures.

Meet Victorian London’s most dynamic duo: Charles Babbage, the unrealized inventor of the computer, and his accomplice, Ada, Countess of Lovelace, the peculiar protoprogrammer and daughter of Lord Byron. When Lovelace translated a description of Babbage’s plans for an enormous mechanical calculating machine in 1842, she added annotations three times longer than the original work. Her footnotes contained the first appearance of the general computing theory, a hundred years before an actual computer was built. Sadly, Lovelace died of cancer a decade after publishing the paper, and Babbage never built any of his machines.

But do not despair! The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage presents a rollicking alternate reality in which Lovelace and Babbage do build the Difference Engine and then use it to build runaway economic models, battle the scourge of spelling errors, explore the wilder realms of mathematics, and, of course, fight crime—for the sake of both London and science. Complete with extensive footnotes that rival those penned by Lovelace herself, historical curiosities, and never-before-seen diagrams of Babbage’s mechanical, steam-powered computer, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is wonderfully whimsical, utterly unusual, and, above all, entirely irresistible.

(With black-and-white illustrations throughout.) 

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:12:12 -0400)

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