The Thrilling Adventures Of Lovelace And Babbage
The Difference Engineers
Release Date: 21 April
Publisher: Particular Books Writer/ Artist: Sydney Padua
“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 It didn’t for a depressingly prosaic reason: the funding was withdrawn.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…