Sunday, 11 October 2015

Chapter 16: Celebrating Ada Lovelace Day early.

Ada Lovelace (Photo from wikipedia)
Tuesday is Ada Lovelace Day, an annual event celebrating the achievements of women in science, technology, engineering and maths. It is named for Ada Lovelace, the daughter of romantic poet Lord Byron and the person who is recognized as the world's first computer programmer. I think this day is extremely important as women are marginalized in these areas in the 21st Century and we need reminding that that historically women have made extremely important contributions to STEM. Sadly I will be away on Tuesday but I wanted to post something in honor of this important date so you get it two days early. 

Picture from the official website. 
I first became aware of Sydney Padua's webcomic The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage through it being mentioned in Jeff Vandermeer and S.J.Chambers' the Steampunk Bible. It is the (mostly) true story of the first computer programmer and Charles Babbage, the man who invented the Difference Engine, the world's first computer who use science to fight crime in Victorian London, even though those crimes are mostly street music and poetry*. The strip is simply wonderful and while it is a "what if", it is extremely well researched and Padua's notes that accompany each installment are really good for people wanting to know more about the period. 

The two main characters are really well written and drawn. The pipe smoking, poetry-hating Ada has to be one of the best female characters in comics right now.  Other personalities of the time appear include, Victoria (natutally), The Duke of Wellington (with his horse, Copenhagen) and Isambard Kingdom Brunel (portrayed as a Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque, cigar chomping super engineer). One of my personal favourite moments is a poetry slam performed by Elizabeth Barrett Browning (complete with someone who looks a lot like Tennyson in attendance). I mean who wouldn't want to see that? :)

All-in-all this is an excellent webcomic (Perhaps my favourite along with Hark! A Vagrant and Nimona) and an excellent introduction to the world of science and technology of the day and of course the amazing personality that is Ada Lovelace. (Jump in here!) 

There is a book of the webcomic but I haven't read it yet... (Hoping I might find it under the Christmas tree this year) but you can buy it from Amazon US & Amazon UK.

*As a student of poetry, does that make me an accessory to crime? 

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