Recommendation: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

The first of this month’s recommendations is the wonderful The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, a graphic novel about how Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage collaborated to conceive of the world’s first true computer. Their real lives ended somewhat tragically, but the author Sydney Padua takes us to a parallel universe where they actually build the machine, and use it. To fight crime.

I first learnt about this book in the BBC4 documentary Calculating Ada: The Countess of Computing (see clip above), which celebrates the life of the woman who started life as the only legitimate child of the poet Byron, and became the first person to write a computer program.

Then I stumbled across this book while H and I were mooching around bookshops in London. A quick flick through made me realise this was an essential impulse-buy. I’m not sure exactly what it was that made me feel this. Perhaps the combination of history, my sense of humour and clear love of the characters, as well as a story that needs to be told. But it might have just been the image of Lovelace and Babbage in full steampunk regalia both dramatically exclaiming “To the Difference Engine!”

Current Favourite Thing:
The fact that the graphic novel was originally based on a web comic entitled 2D Goggles.

Oh, and this: