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The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer (Pantheon Graphic Novels) Hardcover – April 21, 2015
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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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
About 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.
Top customer reviews
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First off, and what I tend to lean very heavily on with my graphic reading, the art is gorgeous. Padua's lines and movement and layouts and character design and cats and and and... Everything in this book is worth noting when it comes to the artwork. Unless you simply hate her style outright, you will love the artwork.
As for the story itself, I really thought this was more of a graphic novel / complete arc story when I bought it. Yes, it has a sense of movement, but it doesn't act as one story. Instead, it's a compilation of different adventures. While I didn't mind this format, honestly, none of the tales ever fully took off for me. Again, I loved the art, but what story it told... I found it hard to care about.
This brings me to the best-worst part of the novel: the historical footnotes. I LOVED that her research informed every line and scene in this. Her research astounded me. The footnotes were quite interesting and added to the story in an awesome way. However, they were equally distracting, some taking so long to read that the flow of the original tale was not only up-ended but tossed out the window, too.
I tried reading the story without the footnotes, but it fell flat, not seeming as rich as before. When I read the footnotes first, then went back to the story, I couldn't always remember what fact went with what, and it lost the richness, too. And--for me--reading both jumbled both fact and fiction to where it was hard to follow the story.
In the end, this works as a much better non-fiction book about these two historical figures--even if the majority of it takes place in a fictional, pocket universe. And maybe it was simply me that had problems with this flip-flopping in the story. Regardless, the art is gorgeous and, for me, totally worth the price of admission.
Some years ago a read a standard biography of Babbage. If you're really interested in a complete picture of Babbage, I would not say that "The Thrilling Adventures...." is a substitute for that, but it is a very useful adjunct to it. It does give a better feel for who these people actually were, and a much better emphasis on Ada Lovelace.
You can tell the author did her research while creating this book. The footnotes alone make the read worth it. Each of the characters is built up out of the research that was done and feel completely real, as if I could walk up to them and have a conversation that would make sense for their personalities.
I giggled my way through most of this read, I won't like. The computer, math and logic jokes were perfect. This is probably one of my favorite reads of the year.
You're reading this in the way you are because of the careers of the title characters: Babbage designed, but was never able to build, not the first computer*, but the first general-purpose computer. Ada Lovelace wrote the first computer programs, even though there were no computers upon which they could run. She was a genius, too and her story is pretty sad.
The drawing is quite nice, rather whimsical. If you like good cartooning and a nice fantasy with some history of the devices we all know and (mostly) love, you'll like this book.
* Arguably the first working modern computer was the Jacquard loom.
Padua begins with the historical version of Babbage and Lovelace, and then goes beyond that to have them engage in a series of disconnected Victorian adventures, often interacting with other famous personages of the times. But what really makes the book work are the footnotes, which act as a kind of running commentary on the graphic novel elements, and the endnotes to each chapter, which provide a little more meat and some miscellaneous facts that don't fit elsewhere. No matter how fantastic the story, Padua keeps connecting her dialogue and actions to things that the historical Lovelace and Babbage and their compatriots said or did, in a way that makes it clear that the actual people were fully as remarkable as the swashbuckling cartoon characters they have inspired.
As a bonus, the end of the book includes some curated excerpts from letters and articles that Padua used for her research.
Most recent customer reviews
I've always like the roots of how things began.Read more