Interviews and more…
- The new digital version 2.013-2.014 is illustrated with original images created by the author and can be shared without problems, thanks to a Creative Commons license. Here, an example (26/160 aprox.):
- The writer and musician from the Canary Islands, Juan Carlos García , inspired by Raymond Galí' novel , has composed the melody Hypatia and Eternity. Click on the button to listen to it and on this link to download it:
- Complete interview with the author of the novel, Raymond Gali, by Eva Orúe, Director of the literary magazine Divertinajes. Click HERE if you want to read this interesting interview about Hypatia and Eternity – it will give you a lot of clues about the text and about the writer.
Novel appeared as number 1 several times in the Science Fiction Best Sellers in Spanish on the Amazon portal:
- Interview with the author by the journalist Kamala Orozco, from Informativos Telecinco HERE.
- Interview with the author by the journalist Antonio J. Rodríguez, from Diario Público HERE.
- Hypatia and Eternity is now on Facebook: Click on the following logo or “Like” in the box on the right, or connect here:
- Now you can read, totally free of charge, the first chapters of the novel! Click HERE to download them.
- Raymond Gali participated in the 68 Feria del Libro in Madrid, signing books on Stand number 155.
- Raymond Gali appeared in the bulletin of the digital publishing house Bubok, in the month of July 2009.
JOURNALIST EVA ORÚE INTERVIEWS RAYMOND GALI
What made you fall in love with Hypatia?
As Stendhal said when alluding to the state of “transitory imbecility”, if I could rationalise it, then it would no longer be passionate love. Now if I analyze it, I think that I was dazzled by the fact that she was in turn madly in love with Learning, with Knowledge, and was totally coherent in her principles and values of which she was very fond and which I find to be missing nowadays. She was a marvellous heroine and did not feel the need to get anyone out of her way, like Joan of Arc (who had her reasons, although Poitiers is not that far from Alexandria). Hypatia made the maxim “on the day of Final Judgement the learned man’s quill shall outweigh the warrior’s sword” come true. Her tragic death, her brutal murder, paradoxically, helped her to live for ever.
Although her fame can do nothing but grow (we will come back to that later), Hypatia is one of those great women whose story has never been valued enough…
I certainly think so. My novel was never intended to be a feminist statement (in the worst way of speaking), but amongst other things, it does try to even out the historical balance, because evidently women did not have the same opportunities. My modest opinion is that the sex of the people who cultivate science and art should not matter, but the fact is that socially, she opened the door for many other very brilliant women at a later date. I like to remember that of course, long before Marie Curie, there were oceans of feminine intelligence and perseverance. Nobody should get upset about this, there is no problem in admitting it, what I am saying is more than evident.
… and you give her a whole new dimension, you make her live on throughout the centuries.
Yes, “after her brutal murder and hidden in the folds of time, she overcame death”, or at least that is what I have read on the front cover of the novel: A fraction of the energy from her being resists being dissolved into the universe, despite being a non-believer… and manages it! How? Coming shortly to your screens…I mean, right now on sale in the main bookshops. The reader will be taken by the hand on a journey, penetrating the minds of some of the most fabulous characters of all times… that is, from a parallel universe. Victor Hugo said that “The aim of art is almost divine: to bring to life again if it is writing history”. Hypatia is brought to life again in my novel and of course she writes history… with almost divine arts.
A historical novel, then?
Despite its high historical content, it the same as my first novel, an mixture of history and science fiction. Technically, it is a uchronia – a carefully reasoned-through historic utopia. What would the world be like if at some point in history something had changed...? It is fractal dichotomy. Let me explain: it has one historical-religious part and another scientific-technological one, the “Era of God” and the “Era of the Geniuses; and this duality is present on a micro and macroscopic level in the book, on all levels, starting with the two initial quotes from a theologian and a scientist, or in the first chapter, for example “Jesus Christ versus Plato”.
The back cover of the book asks us a question: what would the world be like if the Great Library of Alexandria had not burnt down? Alright, we will read the book, but could you give us an idea of the answer?
Without taking the book apart, imagine that the Middle Ages in Europe did not last ten centuries… but only five. Imagine a parallel reality where there would be not just one Leonardo da Vinci, but two! Imagine that the Renaissance, antibiotics, electricity, printing, railways, the Era of Discovery, and quantum physics were all brought several centuries forward… Up to now I know there are no tickets in any travel agency for any kind of transdimensional trip, but if they did exist maybe we would consider one for our summer holidays, for example. Until this occurs, maybe my novel will help you to go on an inexpensive journey in your imagination, in these current times of crisis.
We understand that this novel was born out of a short story. How did that transition take place?
I was lucky enough to win a competition in El Mundo newspaper on 12th June 2002 with my short story called Two Microwatts (under the pseudonym of “my” detective Harrison Freeworld, my own personal Hercules Poirot). I shut myself up in libraries, I devoured hundreds of history books over a period of two years, I put all my notes in order (at the beginning they were messier than the Exorcist’s daughter’s toys, ha ha), and then I brought the first version of my novel to life, with the pathetic title of “Hipatia, the Uchronic Legend” (afterward, I thought it more logical to write her name with a “y” – Hypatia, since she was culturally greek and neoplatonic). I presented this short novel in the science fiction competition of the Universidad Politécnica de Cataluña in 2004. Then I worked on the novel for four more years, giving it a more historical slant, improving its structure, until in 2008 and with my second version (and with “Hypatia and Eternity” as the final title), I competed for the Premio Planeta. I can not say if it is a good, reasonable or ornamental novel, but I do know that it is handmade and the preparation was extremely laborious, a labour of tremendous research; I have lost several parts of my brain along the way for sure. Now it will have to be remoulded and refilled – my brain, not the book!
About the short story - can you tell us about it?
An advanced civilisation detects the exact historical moment when an insignificant amount of energy can change our evolution in the most significant, most decisive way; this is done so that, through the chain of events, humans may evolve technologically, culturally and socially faster. They decide that they will achieve their objective just by putting a candle out, the detonator for the burning on the old Library of Alexandria (it was burnt several times actually). After that, everything changes and in the times of Charlemagne they were already communicating via emails and other digital “deliriums”. Using text messages, the great Emperor intimidates the enemies of Pope Adrian I, who was very keen on new technologies, by the way.
Well, I have to say that I was about to do something absurd and tell a longer story then the story is itself. Sorry, but it was a risk that we all take when we talk about short stories of 125 words long that have some substance to them.
So, (inevitable question, did you start working on your main character after Amenábar had focused on her…
The genesis of the novel, which comes out of a huge amount of work over many years, with many sacrifices, a monumental effort with my limited possibilities coming from a mainly science-based background. Anyone who begins to read the novel will realise straight away that it is materially impossible for this to be a custom made novel, trying to benefit from Amenábar’s name.
My conscience is clear with regard to all suspicions, and the facts can not be disputed, they can be checked: I registered my first version of the novel in the Registro de la Propiedad Intelectual de la Comunidad de Madrid on the 8th September, reference number M-006439/2004. Anyone who does not trust me can check this. By the way, before sending it in to the Premio Planeta on 13th July 2008, I registered the second version. At the very worst, one day someone will try to sue me for plagiarism, but it won’t be easy because I am now on almost intimate terms with the Registry, and have made a groove on the pavement from going backwards and forwards to it so many times. And by the way, I was shown how to protect my writing by “my” Vincian genius, based on his “mirror writing”.
From what you know about Agora, do you think that your Hypatias are the same person?
As far as I know, Amenábar’s projects are absolutely secret and I think that this is no exception. Up until its preview at Cannes Film Festival a few months ago, nobody knew anything about the film except what Amenábar hinted at in the trailer. The truth is that I have no idea, but I think that the film might be the equivalent of the first chapter of Hypatia and Eternity. If the film depicts the Christians as the “baddies” and the atheists as the “goodies” (although I doubt that a seemingly intelligent guy like Amenábar would succumb to that unfair and childish simplification), it would not be at all similar to my novel, which paints religion and science on either side of the coin. I really like almost every film that Amenábar has directed so I suppose that Agora will be a great success. I certainly hope so – he is more than talented enough. Let’s hope that the Goddess of Fortune looks him in the eye. It is about time that people who missed out on “Cosmos” by Carl Sagan knew who Hypatia of Alexandria was. Oh, and when they get to know that, they should of course read “Cosmos”, which amongst other things puts us human beings in perspective (“When in the end it was discovered what the centre of the universe was, many people were perplexed and disappointed to find out that it was not them” H&E).
Did you imagine her to look like Rachel Weisz?
No, but after seeing his choice, I would not hesitate to congratulate him upon it. I dressed up at Leonardo da Vinci to promote my first novel (Julio Camba said that art is the professionalization of human psychological defects, ha ha) but I decided not to do the same thing with Hypatia when I saw how the Greek headdress looked on Rachel Weisz. In any case, it wouldn’t look at all good with my goatee; well not with my beard or with anything else either. As my agent would say, writers should stick to their writing, and Weisz to cheer up the spectator’s pupils with her sweetness and her face filling the camera. In “The Constant Gardener” she is fantastic.
You are a computer specialist professionally, and a novelist and historian vocationally. Is the novel’s web page your doing?
Sorry to clarify what you have said here: I am only a computer specialist on paper, because I have always been a teacher, and I am not a historian even on paper (although I would like to be).
I simply have a great passion, and with a mammoth effort (and even bigger lapses), I systematically research my texts. Maybe I am a novelist now, but a very humble one in view of the great ones who preceded me. I read Wilde, Poe or Borges, for example, and have a huge chip on my shoulder; what incredible people. Didn’t they have anything else to do but write? Ha ha. I am an apprentice, maybe.
A very good creative friend did the web-site for me, the same one who also “perpetrated” my pride and joy for my first novel, for which we have been lucky enough to be congratulated by half the planet. With regards to Hypatia and Eternity’s web-site, all I did was to “fine tune” it and update it every time it needs doing. For example, when a reader sends me an interesting review, I include it in the web-page straight away.
It is tempting to wonder what would have become of Hypatia in the internet era…
I am sure she would have digitalised all the parchments from the Great Library, one by one, with an optical character recognition (OCR) software. Then, because of the barbarians or Emperors suffering from the pyromaniac syndrome “Farenheit 471”, she would make numerous security back-up copies on distant servers around the world. Then, maybe she would have put all ancient knowledge in her e-book, just for the satisfaction of doing it (or maybe to wind up Bishop Cyril, ha ha). In the Alexandrian evenings she would write on her blog. Some days she would have to apply her sôphrosynê or spiritual self-control when her latest operating system crashed. Before going to bed, she would exchange the works of Euripides and Plato with her disciples via Bluetooth (hey, and maybe the works of Woody Allen and Groucho Marx too, ha ha), after putting them through the antivirus filter first, of course.
In the end, what was her influence on the philosophers that have marked our history?
As far as I know, no works of Hypatia of Alexandria have been preserved (although some by her father, the astronomer Theon, have been), at least none with her signature, because we live in a reality where a large part of Antiquity’s legacy has been lost. In our universe, only 10% of Sophocles’ works have been preserved (but in all other parallel realities on record, there are up to 123 complete tragedies written by him). Hypatia’s influence is limited and she was not particularly remembered until the nineteenth century, when the romantic artists “resuscitated” her. Now, she can certainly be considered as the first western scientist to cover such supposedly disperse disciplines as mathematics, philosophy and astronomy. She was also an inventor by the way: she designed hydrometers (to measure the density of liquids), distillers, level gauges, etc. She developed algebra and trigonometry, she drew up astronomic tables having mapped out celestial bodies; and she commented on the works of previous mathematicians, including her father. I modestly consider that (beyond the official date of 471 b.C., the fall of the Western Roman Empire), the life and death of Hypatia of Alexandria traced the line between the glorious Antiquity and the disturbing Middle Ages.
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- JOURNALIST ANTONIO. J RODRIGUEZ INTERVIEWS AUTHOR (July 2009)
What is the central story line of Hypatia and Eternity?
What would the current world be like if the Great Library of Alexandria had not burnt down? Hypatia of Alexandria, “after her brutal murder and hidden in the folds of time, manages to overcome her death”. Following that, a fraction of her energy from her being sets out on a journey through space and time, towards the future. Thanks to an invisible alchemy, she is capable of inserting herself into the minds of the most influential characters of all time, but in a parallel reality: Byzantine Emperors, knowledgeable Englishmen, the great Charlemagne, the conquistadors of new lands, Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac, Newton, etc. She tries, amongst other things, to reduce the European Middle Ages from ten centuries to five, thanks to the knowledge from the volumes saved from the Great Library. Her dream is that humanity should evolve scientifically and technologically faster, in order to achieve maximum neoplatonic knowledge.
What made you interested in writing a novel about the city of Alexandria?
Actually, Alexandria, which came to be in some way a substitute for the great Pericles’ Athens of Antiquity, is reflected only in the first chapter of my book. Afterwards, the reader will set out upon a long journey through five continents and many centuries; a millennial and imperial China, a Carolingian Europe devastated by the barbarian people, the discoverers’ singular Oceania, a different pre-Colombian America from that which forms part of our history, etc, etc. It is true that Alexandria, the starting point of my narration, was a crucible of civilisations (Egyptian, Roman and Greek), where all the learning of humanity was accumulated and concentrated in the Great Library mentioned previously; which is the reason behind its historical importance.
Why is it important today to come closer to the city of Alexandria for us today, and what analogies can be established between Alexandria and our contemporary society?
In the times of Hypatia, the city was political-religious gun-powder on the verge of exploding, with the barbaric tribes banging on the gates of a decadent Roman Empire’s doors, about to storm in. As I say, Alexandria was the one place on the planet where practically all human learning was gathered together – that is why its loss was so irreparable; according to the populiser of science, Carl Sagan, if the Library of Alexandria had not burnt, we would now be… in the stars! I would like to clarify this great quotation that brought about my novel: I think that we would at least have colonised the planets and satellites of the solar system, cured cancer and would have inexhaustible sources of energy, amongst many other things. Maybe we would not be celebrating the 40th anniversary of man’s landing on the moon, but perhaps the 300th year anniversary of the man’s landing on Mars. Nowadays, such learning can be found all over the world on analogical platforms – wonderful books – or digital ones. Thanks to internet, we can access universal knowledge at the press of a button. If the beautiful Hypatia, the last Librarian of Alexandria and guardian of knowledge, were to come back to life… she would be addicted to the www, ha ha.
How important was historical research for you when writing Hypatia and Eternity?
I was lucky enough to win a short story competition in the year 2002 with a short story that was the origin of my narration. Then I locked myself up in libraries until I came up with the first version of Hypatia and Eternity in the year 2004. Four years and hundreds of volumes later, I brought the second and almost the last version of my novel to life, and I put it in to compete for the Premio Planeta in 2008. The research was tremendous, a mammoth task for me because, on one hand, it covers seventeen centuries of history and five continents, and on the other hand, I am the author, yours truly, a man of “science”. Biographies, original historical sources, encyclopaedias, historical essays, etc. have all been my travelling partners for seven years. All this helped me to write the first part of the book, “The Era of God”, with a historical-religious slant. The second one, “The Era of the Geniuses” was easier for me as it was more scientific-technological and, as I say, my education goes more in that direction. Mmmh, just a minute. I have just read that last bit and it sounds heavy-going to me: it’s not up to me to say so, but honestly it isn’t. The truth is that the novel is a historical thriller with goodies and baddies, love and adventure, death and hope. Hope in human future… and the Great Library of Alexandria was the key to that!
What characteristics would you emphasize about your novel to position it amongst the growing number of publications about the city of Alexandria and the figure of “Hypatia”?
Leonardo da Vinci said that “nothing can be loved or hated unless it is first known”. I am not in a position to give my opinion on other present-day books based upon Hypatia of Alexandria (or in which she appears), because I have not read them, I can only offer them much respect, for the mere fact that they bring my beloved learned woman back to life. I know that I have dedicated many years of my life to writing mine, and I think that the reader will have an epic experience through time and space alongside the beautiful Hypatia, a great journey through a parallel reality. Starting out from one of the most dazzling cities of all times, Alexandria, and a terrible crime… I have infinite respect for the reader and my obsession is not to make it boring, so as I commented before, I have tried to design a thriller charged with a significant amount of history, but also science fiction and adventure; only time will tell if I am lucky enough for the structure and form of my novel to fulfil my objectives.
In any case, I believe that it is only fair to allow the reader to “try out” the merchandise before acquiring it, so anyone can download and read the first chapter of my novel from the website www.hypatiaandeternity.com.
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- JOURNALIST KAMAMA OROZCO INTERVIEWS THE AUTHOR (OCTOBER 2009)
Who was Hypatia?
A knowledgeable neoplatonist, astronomer, mathematician, teacher (of divine geometry amongst other subjects) and virtually the last Librarian of the Great Library of Alexandria. Also, it seems, a very beautiful woman: she was known as “the perfect one” because of her intellectual and physical qualities. A strange, exceptional person, in any case.
How would you define her?
Intelligent but humble, rational but open to the unknown and the unintelligible, passionate about knowledge in all of its aspects to the point that she sacrificed everything for it (like my idol Leonardo da Vinci). Coherent and faithful to her principles… qualities that I find to be missing nowadays.
How important was she in history?
The books should be corrected: despite the official date of 476 b.C. (the fall of the Roman Empire), the real barrier between Antiquity and the Middle Ages was defined by Hypatia’s life and death. She marked the end of a glorious age, shimmering with perfection, and the beginning of a dark age, especially as far as scientific progress is concerned.
Have you seen the Amenábar film? What do you think of it?
The film ends right where my novel begins, for in it, Hypatia comes back to life and travels to the future by entering the minds of the most relevant characters of an alternative History. I think that many people went to see the film with great expectations… created only by themselves! I almost did, but I corrected myself just in time… I made my mind go blank!; I recommend forgetting the extremely high expectations created by the huge amount of publicity, forgetting the search for certain sensations, forgetting “Gladiator”, forgetting the (logical) prejudices as to whether Spanish cinema is over- subsidised or whether the film is openly anti-Christian (I don’t think it is actually, it is more anti-fanatical). In that way, the spectator can follow the Greek ideals, i.e. come out of the prison of pre-conceived ideas and be totally FREE. And, despite all the “buts”(which there are), you will enjoy the convulsive Alexandria of the fourth century, the stars, and the sweet beauty of Rachel Weizs. I did. By the way, shortly the very same NeoHypatia of Alexandria, the eternal being that she becomes after dying in Hypatia and Eternity, will expand on this opinion of Agora in my novel’s web page.
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RAYMOND GALI APPEARS IN BUBOK’S REPORT IN THE MONTH OF JULY 2009
5 minutes with Raymond Gali
Raymond was one of the first authors to register in Bubok. He is a defender of self-publication and does not understand why we have no representation in Festivals like the Festival del Libro in Madrid. He is very grateful to Bubok because it allowed him to actually publish. Ramón is an example for us to follow as far as book promotion is concerned. He overtook everyone and uploaded his first novel on Internet in 2006. His book has its own web page: http://www.leoinvencible.com and even a promotional video. To watch it click HERE.
In the 2nd edition of the Noche de los Libros in Madrid, Raymond dressed up as Leonardo da Vinci to promote his novel La Invencible Sonrisa de Leonardo on his bicycle. In this way he announced his digital novel and gained an interview in Telemadrid.
We wish you all the luck in the world with your second novel Hypatia and Eternity.
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