Word to the Wise
Armenian scientist George Ter-stepanian predicted such things as avian flu and super hurricanes back in 1982. GRAPHIC VIVIEN LEUNG
Wiser Than Humans George Ter-Stepanian Éditions Antaeus 324 pp $24.99
Wiser Than Humans, the work of the late author and scientist George Ter-Stepanian, was a book truly ahead of its time. Written in the early 1980s and available now for the first time in English, the fictional work foretells many of the environmental crises currently affecting humanity.
Available in time for CON*CEPT, Montreal’s annual science fiction convention, the book is set in the year 2015 and opens at a global environmental summit. The world is on the brink of destruction because of the troubled state of the environment. Ter-Stepanian accurately predicted many events that have already come to pass such as avian flu and disastrous changes in the world’s climate.
A group of scientists leave the conference and fly home over the Bermuda triangle where they are promptly kidnapped by a UFO. What happens next involves an interspecies effort to save the planet.
The life of the book’s author, who passed away in 2006, was no less interesting than those of his fictional creations. Born at the beginning of the 20th century in Armenia, Ter-Stepanian lived to be 99 years old and witnessed world-changing events.
“He lived through two world wars, two revolutions, Lenin/Stalin and the KGB terror regime, famine, and the ‘dark’ years in Armenia,” recalled his daughter, Karina Ter-Stepanian, who co-published the book with her sister, Anahit—both of whom now reside in Montreal.
Ter-Stepanian was an internationally recognized scientist, specializing in soil mechanics and engineering geology and publishing over 300 scientific papers in journals around the globe. He was also passionate about art and literature and spoke seven languages fluently. The book was originally written in Russian and then translated into English by Christine Mitchell.
Armenia’s troubled national history is another recurring theme in Wiser Than Humans.
Several of the leading characters make reference to the Armenian Genocide at the hands of the Turks, an event which remains unacknowledged by Turkey to this day.
“My father was an eight-year-old boy in 1915 when he first became aware of our [national] tragedy,” said Karina Ter-Stepanian. “He believed the recognition of the Armenian Genocide was important not only for Armenians but for humanity, to ensure that the same crime will not happen elsewhere again.
“The book was inspired by his strong belief that the general public needs to be aware of our devastating ecological conditions. That is why he decided to write a science fiction novel, [which he thought] would serve as a powerful and metaphorical vehicle through which to share his concerns and make a plea to his fellow citizens to take decisive and necessary measures,” she continued.
But has the late Ter-Stepanian’s dire forecast for humanity’s fate come too late to the ears of the western world? So long as science fiction writers continue to make bold new predictions about the direction we as a species are heading, it’ll never be too late.
Wiser Than Humans can be purchased online at editionsantaeus.com.
Montreal’s science fiction and fantasy convention, CON*CEPT, runs from Oct. 2 to 4 at the Days Hotel (1005 Guy St.). For more info about CON*CEPT, visit conceptsff.ca.