* In other news, my most recent "Looking Back into Genre History" segment is up on the latest episode of StarShipSofa, and in it I discuss the great Ada Lovelace. If you listen, I hope you enjoy!
* My inspiration for this episode is a new book for middle readers that I highly recommend to young and old alike.
In The Case of the Missing Moonstone (Wollstonecraft Detective Agency #1), Jordan Stratford brings together the mother of modern science fiction, Mary Shelley, and the world's first computer programmer, Ada Lovelace, as girls (14 and 11, respectively). In honor of the feminist writings of Mary's late mother, Mary Wollstonecraft, the two create the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency. They use science to solve the mystery of the missing moonstone. There is so much to love here: clever dialogue, evocative description, action, and intelligent young women using their reason.
For young readers, the novel serves as an introduction of sorts to the intellectual history of the Victorian era; for those who are already in the know, the inside jokes and loving homages are a treat. The mystery is a retelling of The Moonstone by Wilkie Collins, the first great detective novel in English. Percy B. Shelley and Charles Dickens play key roles in the tale, as do mesmerism and Newgate Prison.
The book ends with a discussion of the real history behind Ada, Mary, Wollstonecraft, The Moonstone, and the other ingredients of the story, and Stratford makes it clear when and why he's taken liberties with the past (for example, in narrowing the real gap between the ages of his protagonists so they have the chance to be young heroines together).
This is a perfect storm of inspiration, entertainment, and education. I'm already making plans to put a copy of this book into the hands of the young readers I know.