Moons and suns, I think I'm becoming addicted to gaslamp romance(1). A return to the time before the advent of the electrical computer, before the entire Digital Age began. Sometimes, even a bypass into a Analog Age given the fresh life of innovations that could have been.
It is in part caused by myself, as these trends are. I borrowed an anthology called, fittingly, Steampunk, edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer. I browsed the web extensively for fanart of Acker's 9, or more specifically his stitchpunks. I visited steampunk sites online. But the pivotal point was when I came upon this.
Sydney Padua's take (which in her words is 'not a comic') on a reality where Ada Lovelace(2) and Charles Babbage(3) have successfully built the Difference Engine(4) is sheer comedy, complemented by delightful characterisation via body language as well as the stock duo Lovelace and Babbage comprise. Under the veneer of laughs it is, to the core, steampunk, criticising modern problems from a pseudo-, no, semi-, no, somewhat-Victorian standpoint. Go see it.
I hope this has been educational. I now know more about Babbage than I ever thought I should just by standing next to Padua as she forged on with her not-a-comic. Otherwise, it should be entertaining. Failing that, I took great pleasure in writing this.
(1) General term for fiction depicting alternative realities where abandoned technologies are the driving force behind progress. Includes but not restricted to the "steam" in steampunk and the "clock" in clockpunk, as the "punk" part requires the story to lash back out at modern society.
(2) Mathematician and phyicist who, ironically, was the only legitimate child of the notorious poet Lord Byron.
(3) Inventor of devices stated in (4), but was also extremely interested in other things ranging from banning street music, visiting little volcanoes like Vesuvius and construction carriages with built-in bookshelves. He was quite a character, which is like saying he was a prime paradigm of the quality called humanity as my classmates have once phrased. But I can say he was a person who had a knack for doing things to tempt one to distance oneself from.
(4) A computer used for calculating polynomials and logarithms. Its descendant, the Analytical Engine, was THE computer that could have been, if not for the irritating Second Law of Thermodynamics . Note: if successful, computers would have come something like a century early. Even if Babbage had only finished it at the end of his life, they would have come in 1871, seventy years early. Think on that.