Because all of life is stories.
Ada Lovelace was born in the early 1800’s, daughter of Lord Byron. Convinced that she was possessed of the dangerous and erratic Byron genes, her mother Anne Noel set Ada on a strict diet of math tutoring from a young age, forbidding her the study of poetry, lest it awake in her the same demons that compelled her wildly erratic father. Ada grew up with love of what she called the “poetical science” of mathematics. She became a close friend and co-conspirator of Charles Babbage, and contributed much work on his Analytical Engine, an early form of the computer. While she is credited with the invention of punch card computer programming Ada passed away at the young age of 37, leaving Babbage alone and his machine unfinished.
But what if she didn’t?
Sydney Padua has, through the use of charming and witty comics that are the result of an exhausting amount of research, delved into a world of alternative history and science fiction that features a healthy and energetic Ada and an incorrigible and eccentric Charles Babbage and their numerous adventures and escapades together. All accompanied by a faithful narrator who provides insight, jokes, and innumerable historical goodies from rare primary and secondary sources.
All the while, the Engine grows in size and complexity. It attracts the attention of the Queen, Charles Dickens, and famous British luminaries that highlight the extensive and incredibly impressive array of contemporaries that Lovelace and Babbage shared. The story is broken down into vignettes that chronicle the life of the Engine as it grows and inserts itself into more and more parts of modern life. The Engine is put on wheels and made to help fix the British economy. It helps Lovelace and Babbage fight crime (Or so the Queen thinks). It grows to be the size of a city or a country and adapts to take on not just everything mathematical but also everything literary as well, correcting novels and sometimes destroying them when they get catalogued wrong.
All throughout the book the ever present narrator breaks the fourth wall to interject with historical tidbits and judgments and punchlines into the story, occasionally bringing the whole production to a screeching halt. If all textbooks were told in the form of steampunk comics with the same amount of history and lore in them, no child would drop out of school.
Babbage is easily frustrated and totally convinced that he knows what the Engine, the country, and the world at large needs, sometimes to the detriment of the whole operation. His mouth tends to run. Especially in front of the Queen. Lovelace is by turns the sweet and caring Matron of the Engine, and at others the wrench wielding Avatar of Knowledge and Progress, bravely swinging through the caves of the Engine and banging it back into place, all the while saving lost souls from the occasional mouse catching leopard.
The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage chronicles the history of one of, well, history’s most intriguing duo’s and imagines a life better lived than the reality of an early death and a life lived in frustration. Though their lives were not perfect by any means, modern culture and technology owes everything to the designs of a man named Babbage, and the punch cards, mathematical brilliance, and poetic dreams of a woman named Lovelace. Sydney Padua has crafted for them a biography and a memorial worth cherishing. I do hope you enjoy it.