Neither of the two protagonists of our story are alive today. Laszlo Biro died in 1985 in Buenos Aires. Andor Goy in 1991 in Budapest. Although we have no recourse to their living testimony, they both, fortunately, left biographies for posterity. Biro dictated his memoir into a tape recorder; this was edited into a successful book by the Argentine Journalist Hector Zimmerman titled Una Revolucion Silenciosa (Silent Revolution) and published in Hungarian translation in Budapest in 1975. Goy's memoir, on the other hand, entitled The Real Story, is fading away, unpublished to this day. In these very personal recollections is not hard to discover a strong element of self-justification, and a certain distance from hard fact. Biro is open in admitting, "The readers of this book should never forget that what they hold in their hands is a hopelessly biased work. What I recount is the truth, but it is probable that the facts and persons presented are not in reality quite as I describe them. "As for Goy, it was only in his later years that he began to put his memories to paper. His intellectual powers had of course deteriorated over the years, as evidenced by occasional factual errors, especially with regard to dates. To mention just two of his gaffes, he refers to the state of Israel with reference to an event in 1942, when Israel was in fact only founded in 1948; elsewhere he confuses two Argentinean presidents, De Justo and Peron. Yet despite these qualms, in my journey through this whirlwind of events, it is these two manuscripts that have been my Ariadne's thread.
The two men describe events that only they lived through, and only they know – and often I relay these verbatim. While using their texts, I have made every effort to be faithful to their personal tone and to the way they relate the various episodes in the form of dialogue scenes. In addition to their memoirs, I have made use of a number of other sources: newspaper articles, legal records, contracts, and other works relating to the subject. My primary evidence has been in the form of conversations with patent agents, historians of science, Hungarian and Argentinean diplomats, and those involved in the production of ballpoint pens. The greatest help, of course, was that which I received from the relatives of the book's protagonists. Goy's daughters Gabriella and Krisztina made me welcome in their father's old house; Mariann Biro allowed me to pay her a visit in Buenos Aires.
Even in command of all this information, the story demanded continual interpretation. It was necessary to define its place on the map of Hungarian history of the twentieth century, and to square often contradictory claims about what occurred – without taking on the role of judge and jury.
I was not in a position to compromise my objective of turning this tale into a readable book. This explains, I hope, why the entire text is colored by my assumptions and by the workings of my imagination.
I would ask the reader to consider it both a historical manuscript and a novel.
If it fails to make the grade in either respect, or indeed in both, I can only quote the great Russian mathematician Lobachevsky when he says, "The real problem with books about geniuses is that they are not written by geniuses".