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A Brief History of Government IT Projects

Book Review: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage, by Sydney Padua
Back to the work book sale; I think I'd vaguely heard of this one when I saw it in the sale and decided it was something different to try. I'd initially thought of it as a graphic novel, but really it's more just a series of cartoons without a specific plot-line. There are, however, copious footnotes and endnotes to each chapter, which go some way to clarifying fact from fiction in the cartoons. Claiming the artistic licence of a "pocket universe" to overcome chronological difficulties, the book examines Babbage's Difference and Analytical Engines (generally using the former term "because it sounds better" even when it more often refers to the latter) and imagines a series of steampunk escapades with Ada, Countess of Lovelace. References are often made to the government grants given to Babbage who nevertheless failed to produce the machines (generally because he had thought of an even better machine and had to get that design written down). There are guest appearances by Queen Victoria, the Duke of Wellington, George Boole, various nineteenth century literary figures (the pocket universe admits an amount of timey-wimeyness), and a herd of cats.

I certainly feel this satisfies the Reithian doctrine of educating, informing and entertaining, and enjoyed it very much. If Sydney Padua and Frances Hardinge have never met, then there should be a pocket universe somewhere in which they have.
Tags: books, computing, history, science
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