Lovelace and Babbage

Okay, so technically this book is called The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage but…the adventures really aren’t that thrilling? So, we’re going with just Lovelace and Babbage because the book is still educational and interesting it’s just not, y’know, exciting.

In case you don’t know, Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage theoretically invented computing – theoretically because they never actually made the Analytical Engine they wrote about. As such, that title still belongs to Alan Turing because he actually made the thing. But they did come up with the first ideas of a bunch of stuff that we still use today and that’s still pretty impressive for people who were alive in the 1800s. It’s worth noting that pretty much everything in the book after the first section that describes the (actual, depressing) historical events is historical fiction and therefore not real. I thought it was going to be like they were Batman and Robin solving crimes but it was actually just cartoonish accounts of interactions that mostly actually occurred with the addition of the Analytical Engine as though it had actually been built and used and Lovelace not dying super young.

So… THIS HAS THE MOST FOOTNOTES OF ANY COMIC I’VE EVER READ. (I’d really like to say it has the most footnotes of anything I’ve ever read at all, but alas I have read a David Foster Wallace.) Kind of an offputting number of footnotes, honestly. But about halfway through I decided to just read the comic like it was a comic and come back for the footnotes (and also the extensive endnotes) after I was done and that worked way better for me. Especially since the added notes mostly don’t pertain to any particular sentence or frame, they’re just letting you know that although there’s no way to verify that this scene occurred, they are definitely pretty close to actual historical events and people.

The art in this is so cool! I really kind of want to buy a second copy and use it like a coloring book (something I also still badly want to do with the Scott Pilgrim series…maybe I just love coloring books and black and white graphic novels really resemble coloring books but with cooler themes…).

A Babbage party

An amalgam of all of Babbage’s famous party guests in one place

Also there are excellent historical figures! Ada Lovelace is pretty kickass – her dad was Byron and her mom was so worried that she’d be a philandering mess like him that she refused to let her daughter read any poetry or even abstract math concepts ’cause that’s like the poetry of math, I guess. And Charles Babbage sounds like a cantankerous weirdo and it’s delightful that the author of this book is clearly in love with both of them. And there’s a cast of secondary characters who are historical figures I knew almost nothing about before reading this book.

Lovelace and Babbage nerding out at a party

Lovelace and Babbage

In conclusion, this book is cool but only read it if you were looking for a history, math, or engineering lesson NOT if you were looking for people in capes fighting crime. ‘Cause then you might be a little disappointed at the lack of explosions.



One thought on “Lovelace and Babbage

  1. So,,,not really a comic book?
    Not having been a math geek but trusting your judgement I will find a copy and work my way through it
    Pretty entertaining review

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