The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
Steampunk icons Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage were frustrated pioneers of 19th-century computer science. Babbage spent many years and government grants developing his Analytical Engine, a steam-powered calculating machine, and Lovelace wrote the first computer program. But Babbage never completed his machine, and Lovelace, like her father, Lord Byron, died at the age of 36.
In her first book, The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, London animator and cartoonist Sydney Padua creates an alternate history for them in which they enjoy a lifetime of happy collaboration and fantastical adventures. They amuse Queen Victoria, battle Luddite mathematicians and meet with great minds of the century. One chapter is a raging satire of economic theory; another dramatizes Lovelace as Alice in the Wonderland of her career and her detractors; another sends George Eliot into the cat-infested guts of the Difference Engine in desperate pursuit of the only copy of her first novel, wandering through a flowchart and some loops in the process.
Padua's writing overflows with wit and charm and enthusiastic geekery. Her cartooning is artistic and energetic. Lovelace and Babbage is an exhilarating ride through a rich period of scientific history, both as it was and should have been. --Sara Catterall