Wednesday, August 2, 2017

What I Read: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

I borrowed this book from a friend. She thought to recommend it to me on the basis of the footnotes (long story), not knowing that I'm also a huge nerd for Ada Lovelace. I mean, I'm pretty obviously a huge nerd generally and she knew that much when she let me borrow it; I mean for Lovelace and the Analytical Engine specifically.

Image courtesy Sydney Padua and Pantheon
I LOVED THIS SO MUCH. This is the rare instance where a book is popular on GoodReads and I LOVE IT. Bullet points:

  • Padua did so much research, and it shows. I love research. More research!
  • It is so meticulously well researched that Padua makes a point of clearly demarcating where the fictional licenses occur, not only by explicitly creating a "pocket universe" where the fanciful adventures take place, but even the poetic licenses she takes within that pocket universe, e.g. when she fudges the timelines for people like Jane Austen or Lord Nelson. When people don't acknowledge small goofs like that in their historical fiction/alternative fiction universe, IT BUGS ME. (More on this in a forthcoming review of another book.)
  • The art is adorable.
  • Padua also endeavors to actually illustrate how the Analytical Engine might have actually looked, which is so cool!
  • She also includes lots of original correspondence from Babbage and Lovelace as well as their contemporaries in the appendices, if you're into that.
  • Yes, did I mention just how well this web comic-turned-graphic novel is researched?
  • I love the way that fictional Lovelace and fictional Babbage pal around and have adventures together and are clearly good friends and there's no weird romance shoehorned in. 
  • Padua also uses direct or almost-direct quotations from other historical figures in people's dialogue, which I love.
  • Also Lovelace's pipe!
  • So much research, y'all.

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