Saint Petersburg Branch of the Russian Humanist Society
The history of the twenty-first century: a novel

Dear sir or madam,

It is a joy to present my novel "2085" for your attention. "2085" was first published in Russia two years ago.

"2085" has already found an active readership in Russia. This success, I am convinced, could be replicated among Western readers, as the book deals with vital issues that all civilizations must confront in the twenty-first century.

The novel, set in the year 2085, evokes the best traditions of the anti-utopian science fiction genre. Compared to works by Orwell, Wells, Lem and the Strugatsky brothers, "2085" has enjoyed excellent reviews from Russian critics. For example, Olga Kostyukova, a book reviewer for the popular magazine "Profile", offered the following compliment: "Zakhar Oskotsky's anti-utopian 'Troy's Last Tower' is on par with the works of George Orwell and is just as well written" (to access the article in its original Russian, please see

I live in St. Petersburg, Russia, where I write short stories, novels, historical fiction, essays and articles, as well as television scripts for history programs. I have been publishing for more than twenty-five years. For additional information about me and my work, please visit my personal website at (in English) or (in Russian).

Written as a cautionary tale, "2085" is a prophecy of the central events destined to shake the twenty-first century. The novel explains the circumstances leading up to history's longest war and describes its fantastic conclusion. A spiralling conflict already sensed today, the Contraceptive War will be a colossal battle between the West and the Third World, a fountain of terrorism against the rest of the world.

As the action unfolds, Western leaders realize that traditional military campaigns will never eradicate terrorism. Terrorism, they recognize, is a result of astronomical population growth in underdeveloped countries, coupled with the impoverished conditions in those lands. In order to resolve this problem, the West implements a new - but non-lethal - weapon that immediately reduces Third World birth rates. Thus, by the close of the twenty-first century, the planet's population will fall dramatically.

At the same time, advances in biological technology more than double the average lifespan to approximately one hundred and fifty years, which causes significant and irreversible changes. Although overpopulation is no longer a concern, the survival of a practically immortal population depends on a deep transformation of the human psyche, as well as a new understanding of civilization's goals.

All predictions found in "2085" are based on an analysis of current scientific and technological trends.

A synopsis of the novel is included below.

"2085" ("Troy's Last Tower") A science fiction novel

It is the year 2085. Vitaly Fomin, a retiree from the Russian police force, now works for the United Nations' secret service in Petrograd (formerly St.Petersburg). The history of the twenty-first century unfolds in the protagonist's memories.

Tremendous upheavals shake this century. Terrorism originating from Third World countries increases rapidly during the century's first decade. Unabated population growth and religious fanaticism in these underdeveloped countries soon pose a serious threat to the West. The turning point in this battle of civilizations occurs when the advanced West uses a new, non-lethal biological weapon against the rebellious Third World nations. The new strategic weapon consists of a secretly developed virus that sterilizes victim populations. The West, having also developed a vaccine against this virus, ensures the protection of its own population while unleashing an epidemic of infertility throughout the Third World. Terrorism vanishes within a few decades as people in those poor regions grow old and eventually die off. Thus, the West is victorious in World War III, an epic conflict ending in negligible death and destruction. At the same time, the average Westerner's lifespan increases tremendously thanks to the success of genetic medicine. This life extension transforms human consciousness: people now feel invincible and immortal, convinced that further advancements will be achieved within their long lifetimes and give them eternal life. Furthermore, thermonuclear synthesis and the application of hydrogen as engine fuel provide civilization with inexpensive, ecologically safe energy. People in developed countries now live together in peace, united by a universal legal system and symbolic borders. In this unified world, people, goods and information are freely exchanged; the aging process essentially has been frozen and people no longer fear sickness or death; social, national and religious strife is nonexistent.

The sterilized inhabitants of the Third World, of course, are deprived of immortality. Instead, they are gathered by the Western victors and settled in camps where they live out their unfortunate existence in utmost comfort. Fomin, while still employed at the Russian police force, is dispatched to work temporarily at one of these camps. On this assignment, he meets and befriends UN General Walter Bennet, an American. When Fomin loses his job at the Russian police force, Bennet helps him find work at the UN secret service in Petrograd. Fomin's new position requires him to send reports on all significant events in his region to the UN headquarters in New York. He is ordered to pay particularly close attention to criminal activity. Crime, however, is virtually nonexistent in this new world order.

The novel's central intrigue begins when Bennett asks Fomin to investigate a seemingly routine traffic accident that claimed the lives of two employees from DIGO, a wealthy industrial corporation. Soon after initiating the investigation, Fomin realizes that this traffic accident is far from accidental. Rather, it is the consequence of a rivalry between DIGO and a competing company called REMI. This discovery jolts Fomin - he, like virtually everybody else in the new epoch, believed that the cruelty of organized crime had long ago vanished, that the new immortal world had been graced with eternal peace. In this case, however, an arranged murder obviously has been carried out. Fomin becomes so entwined in the investigation that DIGO, alarmed by his attention, dispatches its own agents to hunt down and murder him. Fomin manages to outmanoeuvre his homicidal pursuers, but ends up killing them in order to save his own life. Thus, Fomin himself unwittingly becomes a murderer, which stirs him to shock and disbelief. Deepening his investigation, Fomin discovers that trouble is secretly brewing in the new immortal society. He uses a special Internet-based research and analysis program that, after long and intense effort, uncovers a startling truth: prosperity in the immortal world is merely an illusion. Civilization, he realizes, is approaching its real crisis only now - a time when the planet is once again spacious, energy is plentiful and life seems eternal.

In the previous epoch, businessmen or politicians who failed in their enterprises grew old and disappeared from the scene due to natural causes. In the new era, however, they stay in the game. And, within the framework of immortality, competition inevitably transmutes into war with a single aim: to destroy one's opponent. Although these contract assassinations are covered up and officially recorded as accidents, civilization is just waiting to explode like a burning cellar full of powder kegs. Fomin reports his findings to Bennett, who initially is disbelieving, convinced that his subordinate has overestimated state authorities. Bennet, however, is soon overwhelmed by evidence and eventually supports Fomin's conclusion. Discovering that similar incidents have been reported to the UN before, Bennett orders Fomin to continue his investigation and collect as much information as possible about the mysterious REMI. In his pursuit of the truth, Fomin meets a beautiful woman named Elena, who happens to be a member of REMI's management. The two begin a romance, and Fomin falls truly in love with Elena. The beautiful seductress, however, remains his enemy, playing a hidden game with Fomin as he attempts to complete Bennet's assignment. Examining fragments of Elena's testimony and observing her company's activities, Fomin discovers that REMI's official business is merely a cover: its real aim is to attract and funnel funding into clandestine science projects. REMI, it is uncovered, is secretly building a space station while aggressively lobbying for legislation that would open a free market in the cosmos.

REMI's conspirators are careful to never initiate conflict, but anyone who dares stand in the company's way is immediately and efficiently destroyed. The corporation is the world's leader in scientific development - most notably, the development of unusual forms of weapons. Elena uses her relationship with Fomin to relay REMI's demands to UN authorities: leave us alone, don't touch us - only then will we stop killing. But the world elite that Bennett represents is determined to bring REMI to heel and acquire the corporation's scientific achievements. Meanwhile, the authorities are not alone in their quest: mafia bosses also are aware of the approaching terrestrial apocalypse and want to get their hands on REMI's weapons. They, too, want to use Fomin to access the corporation, but he categorically refuses to cooperate. Unaccustomed to being denied, the mafia starts pursuing Fomin. UN officials soon become dissatisfied with Fomin for failing to negotiate a deal with REMI and abruptly fire him. He is stripped of his last defense. Elena offers REMI's protection, but the conditions she offers are overly demeaning: Fomin will not agree to slavery in exchange for survival. He can now only rely on himself. Fomin tries to escape the mafia by driving his car east into the depths of the Russian forest. There he learns of Elena's death through a report that reveals a startling fact: she truly loved him, too. Elena's love for Fomin had awakened long-dormant human feelings. And this love drove her to violate one of REMI's laws - a violation that ended in her pitiless murder. The mafia, it turns out, is not alone in its pursuit of Fomin - he falls into the hands of the Russian special service. They take him straight to Moscow to meet with the president of Russia. The president tells Fomin that he has received a letter from the UN general secretary demanding the immediate destruction of REMI. The president, however, realizes that a colossal power is hidden within the company's new scientific developments. Dreaming of a world in which he reigns supreme, the president offers Fomin a high government position if he convinces REMI to disclose its achievements to the state. Fomin refuses to assist the president. As the president throws him out, Fomin realizes he is doomed - either the secret service or the mafia will soon kill him...

Zakhar Oskotsky