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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
     

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer

4.0 4
by Sydney Padua
 

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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

Overview

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.) 

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 01/26/2015
This print edition of Padua’s webcomic is a must-have for anyone who enjoys getting lost in a story as brilliant in execution as conception. Padua debut graphic novel transforms the collaboration between Ada Lovelace (the daughter of Lord Byron) and Charles Babbage (a noted polymath) into an inspired, “What If?” story. Lovelace was a talented mathematician and helped translate a paper on Babbage’s ideas for an Analytical Engine, the world’s first computer. The notes she added to the translation were so cleverly detailed that experts today recognize them as the first example of computer programming. Although Lovelace died a few years later and Babbage was left to tinker with his Analytical Engine until his death, Padua imagines an alternate reality where they build the engine and use it to “have thrilling adventures and fight crime!” The immensity of Padua’s research and the wit and allusions of her prose are striking, saying as much about what drove her to explore the possibilities of her protagonists’ relationship as about the protagonists themselves. Permeated by delightful illustrations, obsessive foot- and endnotes, and a spirit of genuine inventiveness, it’s an early candidate for the year’s best. (Apr.)
From the Publisher
James Gleick, author of The Information
“Don’t be fooled by the word ‘comic.’ Sydney Padua tells a story that is tender, passionate, and true.”

Charles Petzold, author of Code and The Annotated Turing
"So there. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is learned, clever, funny, and above all very silly in the best sense of the word."

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“The immensity of Padua’s research and the wit and allusions of her prose are striking, saying as much about what drove her to explore the possibilities of her protagonists’ relationship as about the protagonists themselves. Permeated by delightful illustrations, obsessive foot- and endnotes, and a spirit of genuine inventiveness, it’s an early candidate for the year’s best.”

Martha Cornog, Library Journal
“Padua’s extravaganza is very much for the whimsical intelligentsia and will speak to those interested in computers or math who will delight in the abundant background materials.”

Bookpage
“Sydney Padua’s impeccably researched, yet playfully imagined graphic biography is a treat for history buffs and graphic novel lovers alike…With fantastically detailed art, footnotes and diagrams…, this is a whimsical graphic account like no other.”
 
Margaret Quamme, The Columbus Dispatch
“Reading The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is like auditing a dozen high-level, inventively taught college classes simultaneously: more than a little overwhelming yet fascinating.”
 
Etelka Lehoczky, NPR.org
“Sydney Padua’s new book is definitely ‘Yowza!’ material.”
 
Discover Magazine
“An outlandish, enlightening tale.”
 
Nancy Szokan, Washington Post
“Informative and entertaining . . . . It’s a book that makes you a lot smarter as it makes you laugh.”
 
The Takeaway
“Novelist Sydney Padua has found quite a pair: the girl with the unstoppable brain; the male inventor 24 years her senior, part-poet, part-genius; this Victorian odd couple, dedicated to crime foiling and cleverness, is easily worthy of Holmes and Watson with a title to match.”

Maria Popova, BrainPickings.org
“Immensely delightful and illuminating …a masterwork of combinatorial genius and a poetic analog to its subject matter.”

Library Journal
03/15/2015
Originally a webcomic, this collection of jests interweaves history, literature, and fantasy into short stories starring Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Babbage's machines, and a number of 19th-century luminaries. Fact: Lord Byron's mathematically minded daughter Ada and inventor-wannabe Charles were lifelong BFFs and collaborated on writings about the proto-computers that Charles wanted to build. Fiction: that either the "Difference Engine" or the "Analytical Engine" was actually built or helped the Victorian pair do battle with the banking system. Fortunately, London-based animator Padua doesn't let facts get in the way of steampunk, and she has a great deal of fun riffing verbally and visually on techno-math geekery. Notes, references, original documents, and amusing speculations intercut the drawings—you can read just the comic, follow the comic and supporting texts, or dip into the texts later. The black-and-white art delivers all the humorous vivacity of solid editorial cartooning when showing, for example, Ada climbing through machine innards with crowbar in hand and pipe in mouth. VERDICT Padua's extravaganza is very much for the whimsical intelligentsia and will speak to those interested in computers or math who will delight in the abundant background materials.—M.C.
Kirkus Reviews
★ 2015-02-03
An audaciously imagined alternate history of the invention of the computer—in 19th-century Victorian England.This graphic novel, written and illustrated by an artist and computer animator, begins with a sliver of fact—the brief, apparently unproductive "intellectual partnership" between Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. She was 18 when they met, the daughter of Lord Byron, steered toward mathematics and science in order to avoid the irrationality and even madness of poetry and, in her words from the novel, "redeem my father's irrational legacy." He was a 42-year-old mathematics professor, "a super-genius inventor" according to the narrative, committed to developing "the radical non-human calculating machine." "In a sense the stubborn, rigid Babbage and mercurial, airy Lovelace embody the division between hardware and software," explains one of the voluminous footnotes (and endnotes) that take even more space than the graphic narrative. The historical version, such as it is, takes less than a tenth of the book, ending with Lovelace's death from cancer at age 36, having written only one paper, while Babbage "never did finish any of his calculating machines. He died at seventy-nine, a bitter man. The first computers were not built until the 1940s." Yet the historical account merely serves as a launching pad for the narrative's alternative history, as the "multiverse" finds the development of oversized, steam-driven computers, with huge gears and IBM-style punch cards. The "Difference Engine" that Babbage conceived and Lovelace documented was initially championed by Queen Victoria, and Padua develops an account that encompasses the literary development of Samuel Coleridge, Charles Dickens, George Eliot and Lewis Carroll. Like Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, readers can get lost in the explosion of imagery and overwhelming notes that document the history that never was. A prodigious feat of historically based fantasy that engages on a number of levels.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780307908278
Publisher:
Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/21/2015
Pages:
320
Sales rank:
113,953
Product dimensions:
7.10(w) x 10.20(h) x 1.20(d)
Lexile:
1130L (what's this?)

Related Subjects

Meet the Author

SYDNEY PADUA is an animator and visual effects artist, usually employed in making giant monsters appear to be attacking people for the movies. She started drawing comics by accident and is still trying to figure out how to stop. Originally from the Canadian prairie, she now lives in London with her husband and far too many books. The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage is her first book.

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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Dr_EAN More than 1 year ago
This graphic novel cleverly parallels actual historical works of Lady Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage. It gives an account of the real history of the difference and the analytical engines. Sadly, neither were fully realized. But wait! What if they were? Enter a pocket universe in alternate history and see the power of steam and the world's first programmable computer. Full of foot notes just like Ada's real life publication documenting the analytical engine. Lots of fun satire and interesting true life facts. I was quite sad to have finished reading it and have no more to follow.... but I definitely will enjoy rereading it on future occasions.
constructivedisorder 9 months ago
The author has done a wonderful job of bringing Lovelace and Babbage back to life. This is one of those books that produces what I can only describe as mental orgasms - spasms of neuronal delight triggered by page after page of exceptional cleverness. Without question, this is one of the top ten graphic novels ever.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This is an incredibly fun and informative book although its subject matter and humor aren't for everyone. I originally took it out from the library with the thought that I'd wait to buy a paperback version if I really enjoyed it. As soon as I finished it I bought the hardcover. -Math in the “pocket universe” is treated much like science is in many modern day fictional works (basically magic that keeps the plot going). However the plots aren't created out of thin air by Sydney Padua but reference real historical events and mathematical concepts. The math rarely includes formulas and is presented in bite size chunks that I found much easier to get through than I would've with a textbook. In addition, Padua discusses both what math looked like during this time period and how it is now. This isn't a comprehensive history by any means but it is fascinating. -The art style is lovely and definitely not the overwrought aesthetic that usually defines steampunk. -The humor is lighthearted and very, very meta. If you don't like seeing the fourth wall torn down you'll probably give up on finishing it pretty early. That being said, it didn't feel gimick-y to me and the fact that all the characters are “stuffy Victorians” made it extra fun. There are however two cringeworthy, early internet humor jokes that could've been improved for the 2015 audience. -The main characters are very likeable. The fact that almost everything they do is cited with primary documents makes me appreciative of the vast undertaking of Padua's research. She tries to get them as close to their real-life counterparts as possible. This book is obviously a labor of love. I heartily recommend this book if you have any interest in either of these historical figures, math, the Victorian age, or the history of computers.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am unable to read this on any Nook apps (Windows, iOS, Mac) nor on my Nook Glowlight. I can read it on my Nook Color. I like to read on my iPad to avoid carrying extra weight. It would be nice of B&N to mention this before selling the Nook version. Id suggest checking out Kobo or even Amazon for an app readable version. Granger