The Thrilling Ad­ven­tures Of Lovelace And Bab­bage

The Dif­fer­ence En­gi­neers

SFX: The Sci-Fi and Fantasy Magazine - - Rated / Comics -

Re­lease Date: 21 April

Pub­lisher: Par­tic­u­lar Books Writer/ Artist: Syd­ney Padua

The

“dif­fer­ence en­gine” – that fas­ci­nat­ing al­most- com­puter de­vel­oped by Charles Bab­bage and Ada Lovelace – could have changed the course of his­tory. It didn’t for a de­press­ingly pro­saic rea­son: the fund­ing was with­drawn. But what if things had gone dif­fer­ently? This book ( col­lected from the we­b­comic of the same name) imag­ines a pocket uni­verse where the dy­namic duo con­tin­ued with their project and had all man­ner of daft ad­ven­tures.

With its ta­pes­try of fact, fic­tion and steam­punk trap­pings, it feels like a cousin of The League Of Ex­tra­or­di­nary Gen­tle­men and Bryan Tal­bot's Alice In Sun­der­land. It’s im­pres­sively well- re­searched – some­thing you can’t fail to no­tice, thanks to the end­less foot­notes. And therein lies a prob­lem…

It rapidly be­comes clear that Syd­ney Padua is less in­ter­ested in telling a story than she is in shar­ing cool facts. The foot­notes are fas­ci­nat­ing and funny, but there are so many of them they dis­tract from the nar­ra­tive. The re­sult feels less like a graphic novel and more of an il­lus­trated pa­per on Bab­bage and co.

It's a shame, as Padua’s art is ap­peal­ing. She has an ex­u­ber­ant, car­toony style that’s a per­fect fit for the comedic tone. It’s an am­bi­tious and orig­i­nal work for sure, just not a par­tic­u­larly co­he­sive one. In­ter­est­ing? Yes. Thrilling? Not so much. Will Salmon

In 1862, Black­wood's Ed­in­burgh

Mag­a­zine printed a gag about Bab­bage's ma­chine break­ing, in­vent­ing IT hu­mour.

Aah, what a world they could have made…

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