For me, one of the most enjoyable things about writing is the building of realistic fictional worlds. To build these worlds so that you, the reader, will find them believable, means research.
Virtually Maria provided scope for a great deal of research into a wide variety of interesting subjects. Some of my notes on these are included below along with my ideas on how they were incorporated into the plot. But please remember as you read these notes, that I am writing science fiction, not pure science.
I have included a Further Reading section in the navigation bar above for you to do your own research wherever possible. It's an adventure. Please have fun along the way, but don't forget your pinch of salt as you read. If you have any comments or queries on either Virutally Maria, A Matter of Time or Yesterday, Today & Tomorrow, please feel free to drop me an e-mail at THIS ADDRESS.
The Pyramids of Egypt
Virtually Maria was really inspired by a charity mission my wife Jane and I undertook in the winter of 1980 as part of a team to drive a convoy of four vehicles and equipment from Ireland to Egypt. After a very eventful voyage across Europe to Ancona and from there by ferry to Alexandria, we ended up outside Cairo at the foot of the Great Pyramid of Cheops. On seeing this incredible mountain of stone I was immediately obsessed with one question - "why were the Pyramids built?" - and the plot for Virtually Maria was born.
To start with a few basic facts. The Pyramids on the Giza Plateau complex were built between 2589 BCand 2504 BC. The Great Pyramid of Cheops (aka Khufu) was built for the Pharoah Khufu over around 20 years and completed in around 2,560 BC. It was the tallest manmade structure for over 3,800 years, until it was surpassed by Lincoln Catherdral in 1300 AD. The designer of the Pyramids was the high priest and architect Imhotep, who began with simple stepped burial chambers and gradually refined his art into the amazing structures that you can see on the Giza plateau today.
As my fictional character Professor El Fiky of the Cairo Museum explains in Virtually Maria, there are two main schools of thought as to why the Pyramids were constructed. They include:
As Burial Chambers
This is the most commonly accepted reason that the Pyramids were built. Each of the pyramids on the Giza plateau was built to house the mummified bodies of the pharaohs Khufu (Cheops), Khafre and Menkaure, with three smaller pyramids - one for each of Khufu's three wives.
As Astronomical Observatories
Other theories postulate that the Pyramids of Giza, when viewed in relation to the River Nile, correspond to the thee stars in the Orion Belt as compared to the Milky Way.
Both of which are highly plausible explanations but, for my thriller to really work the way I wanted to, I needed something a bit more out of the ordinary.
I then stumbled on the theory that, like a great many other monuments of ancient times - including Stonehenge in England, Newgrange in Ireland, the Pyramids and Nazca lines of South America, and churches and cathedrals all over the world - the Pyramids of Egypt are actually built on a spot where lines of natural energy, called Ley Lines, intersect.
Back to top
Ley Lines are invisible rivers of natural energy that flow across the surface of the earth, like the energy that flows between meridian points on the human body in acupuncture theory. Ley lines can be detected with a simple pendulum or a "dowsing rod" of wood or metal. Many ancient holy sites (such as Stonehenge and Newgrange) occur on ley lines, as Micheal Poynder explains in his book Pi in the Sky (see Further Reading).
Poynder is not the first author to theorise on the nature of Ley Lines. In 1921 Alfred Watkins described a "flood of ancestral knowledge" in which he saw a whole new pattern in the landscape linking burial mounds, hilltops, ancient churches and crossroads. Watkins was a respected man and slow to make this vision public, but the more he drew lines on maps the more he saw that ancient monuments and holy places were not placed at random and were indeed linked in definite patterns.
In 1967 Alexander Thom, Professor Emeritus of Engineering Science at Oxford, surveyed more than 600 megalithic sites in Britain and France and concluded that prehistoric man had laid them out with astonishingly precise engineering skill, in an astronomical alignment using the basic unit of measurement of a "megalithic yard" of 83 centimetres.
I then started to research the actual nature of the energy flowing in the lines.
One theory suggests it is a flowing of the "collective consciousness" of humankind and that we have denied our own collective consciousness for millennia. This has put us out of touch with the true order of things and at odds with our spiritual and mystic environment. While this was of relatively little significance in previous centuries, the sheer number of people now inhabiting the planet, and the scale of the technology currently employed in practices counter to the natural order of things is now causing disruptions in the lines of energy criss crossing the planet's surface.
The theory also suggested that these disruptions are taking the form of localised rifts in the fabric of time and space, and that they will build in intensity as humankind continues to work in opposition with nature.
This gave me an idea for the Virtual Trilogy - that ancient civilisations, such as the Aztecs, the Incas and the ancient Egyptians, knew how to harness this energy within specially constructed stone lenses such as the Great Pyramid of Cheops to create portals to the future and the past. These civilisations eventually perished and the energy was forgotten - until it starts interfering with the new generation of sensitive navigational equipment in Theo Gilkrensky's robot pilot systems.
In Virtually Maria, Gilkrensky discovers by accident that the Great Pyramid of Cheops focuses Lay Line energy to the point where it is powerful enough to cause a dimensional rift (or door) that allows matter to flow from one time frame to another. This door is a virtual “black hole” or “Einstein-Rosen Bridge” which warps space and time.
Gilkrensky's Minerva 3000 computer then theorises that this phenomenon might be harnessed and controlled to transport him back to a point before his wife Maria was murdered, enabling him to save her from death.
From this point, I went on to discover that ley lines occur all over the world in a crystalline pattern based on a system of triangles and that great temples of the ancient world are built to this pattern all over the globe.
Another theory has it that the most powerful ley line vortices occur on points derived from taking the world as a giant crystal sphere with quadrilateral sides.
Where these sides intersect in points you get such notable votices as:
- The Great Pyramid of Giza
- The Bermuda Triangle - particularly at Bimini Attol, which was the site of great underwater walls discovered in 1969, the date that author Edgar Cayce predicted the mythical city of Atlantis would be discovered).
- Southern Japan’s “Dragon’s Triangle” - an area of intense seismic activity.
- Pyramids at Xian, China.
- Easter Island and its megaliths.
This last theory suggested a plot that could carry Gilkrensky all over the world in his quest to save Maria from death. This was the point when I realised that Virtually Maria needed to be part of a larger trilogy and I began work on A Matter of Time and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow.
While it may seem extremely fanciful as a basis for a series of techno-thrillers, there are a number of very serious scholars who at least support the theory of the globe as a "crytal world" covered withlines of energy, including:
Plato - This kind of thinking goes back as far as the Pythagorean school of thinking in ancient Greece. Plato wrote that “the earth, viewed from above, resembles a ball sewn from twelve pieces of skin.”
Ivan Sanderson - Writing in Saga Magazine in 1972, worked with several others to try and form a pattern of mysterious events around the world and found 12 equally spaced areas around the globe in which magnetic anomalies and other energy phenomena occur. (e.g Bermuda Triangle/Devil’s Sea - see below)
Russian Group - Late in 1973 Komsomol’s Pravda (an official alternative newspaper for young people) ran an article entitled “Earth, What Are You Anyway?” Suggesting that the earth started out as a crystal with angular dimensions. Only after millenia of erosion did the crystal form itself into a ball. Some Sovient scientists suggested that the boundaries of these crystal faces now lie beneath the surface of our planet, and that some protrude to the surface, creating the “vortices” described above. The genesis of the story is as follows:
Nikolai Goncharov, a Moscow historian (who knew nothing of the threories above) plotted ancient civilisations around the world on a globe, and also found a crystal pattern.
Then Goncharov met Vyacheslav Morozov (a construction engineer) and Valery Marakov, a specialist in electronics and the hypothesis was developed. It first appeared in the popular science journal of the USSR Academy of Sciences Khimiya i Zhizn (Chemistry and Life) under the title “Is the Earth a Giant Crystal?” This theory would have precisely coincided with Sanderson’s, had he put a point at each of the north and south poles.
Barbara Hero - Wrote an article entitled “International Harmony Based upon a Music of Planetary Grid Systems” in the United States Pscyhotronics Association 1985 annual conference proceedings (and reprinted in Anti-Gravity). It correlated the earth grid system with specific musical notes ( an idea that I introduced in Virtually Maria), thus enabling one to find harmonic relationships related to distances between cities and countries.
Return to top
The Pyramids and Virtually Maria
In Virtually Maria, I theorise that Imhotep, the High Priest and Wizard to the Pharaoh Cheops, had spent his lifetime studying the natural energies of the earth. He learned how to focus and harness the energy of the globe itself - the Ley Lines - into a chamber that would form a static wormhole between his present time and the future, extending forwards for as long as the structure existed.
Perhaps he wanted to send his Pharaoh on a voyage into the future when he died, in the hope that the people of the future would know how to revive him - which is, after all what people will hope that cryogenics will do for clients today. Perhaps he wanted immortality for himself. In any event, since the span of the wormhole would only last as long as the structure in which it was contained, he needed a structure that would last “until the end of time” - hence the titanic and immortal of the Pyramid.
My fictional theory for Virtually Maria as to how this would work.
The Great Pyramid is situated at a focal point on the surface of the earth. A point where a great many nodes of Ley Lines converge. Under the influence of a triggering radiation - sunlight, sound or the combined effect of laser holography, the Ley Line energy starts to resonate within the structure until its concentration in the central chamber is enough to open the wormhole and allow matter to pass between the planes of space and time.
Einstein’s equations describing the space-time continuum allow for the possibility of tunnels through the fabric of space and time. They are literally short cuts to any part of the universe and any point in time. For such tears in the fabric of space to occur they need an almost infinite amount of energy. To date, black holes are the only known phenomenon that have the enormous energy required. The problem is getting to one, or creating the energy required, since it would take many times the energy available on earth.
In Virtually Maria, the introduction of a new laser holography display at the Pyramid site recreates the perfect shape of the Pyramid, as well as the energy and sound needed to open the wormhole in the central chamber. This is not noticed until the overflight of the Daedalus equipped aircraft, whose low altitude warning device is effected by the surge of energy and crashes.
Gilkrensky is guided to the existence and function of the central chamber by:
- the point at which the Daedalus was triggered
- the helicopter experiment
- the analysis of the Alvarez Cosmic Ray data
- the opening of the hidden chamber - revealing fragments of aluminium, which was not available to the ancient Egyptians that built the Pyramid.
Return to top
The Minerva 3000 Computer
To work out all the complex mathematics that manipulating the wormhole in the Great Pyramid would require - as well as providing a ghostly reminder of Gilkrensky's late wife Maria - I needed a unique and revolutionary computer of unparalleled power and speed.
The key to computing power is the speed of the processing chip.
A "neural network" gives a computer the power to learn. But a neural network may involve several different processes combined in a circuit board, which could make it too large for practical use. In the fictional world of Virtually Maria, I propose that Gilkrensky has discovered a way of reducing the neural network to a single manageable chip small enough to be installed in a laptop computer - the Minerva 3000.
The beauty of the Minerva 3000 as a plot device is that, wheras a normal silicon chip can "think up and down", a neural network chip allows cross connections to come into play, just like the biological neural network in the human brain. One memory links to other memories, ideas are born and Gilkrensky's neural network Minerva 3000 begins to learn - as well as literally developing "a mind of its own."
As the plot of the trilogy progresses - through Virtually Maria, to A Matter of Time and Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow - the Minerva 3000 becomes an increasingly important character in its own right, eventually taking the key decision as to whether the real Maria lives or dies.