I just finished A Madman Dreams of Turing Machines – Janna Levin‘s novel that weaves threads from the lives of Kurt Godel and Alan Turing.
I was already familiar with Turing and his code breaking exploits that enabled the allied victory in the battle of the Atlantic from Robert Harris’s thriller Enigma and various historical accounts including the fascinating Most Secret War (R.V. Jones).
What Levin does is breathe some life into the biography.
It took me to The Turing Scrapbook – a great online resource of information compiled byAlan Hodges where I learned all kinds of things. Turing wasn’t only a brilliant mathematician and founder of computer science he was also a visionary thinker. (Plus Olympic level athlete and marathon runner.) In Levin’s fiction he was bullied at school where he was not a star pupil and did very poorly in many academic areas. He was also persecuted by the British government and some would say hounded to his death. I now have Hodges’ acclaimed biography Alan Turing: The Enigma on my reading list.
Next up for summer reading: The Yellow House- Van Gogh, Gauguin and Nine Turbulent Weeks in Provence by Martin Gayford.