Aelita was Tolstoi's bridge between emigration and the Soviet Union. Soviet critics often cite Aelita as the outstanding Russian science-fiction novel, yet its fantastic elements derive from such Western literary influences as H. G. Wells, Jules Verne, Edgar Rice Burroughs and even Theosophy. It is an engaging love story with resonances from the nineteenth-century Russian cultural tradition, but Mars is also a metaphor for pre-Revolutionary Russia and the declining West, and the social aspects of the novel testify to Tolstoi's early faith in the Revolution as an expression of something instinctive, anarchic, and deeply Russian. The novel contains a number of Tolstoi's typical themes-the power of love to overcome reason, for example, and the opposition between the intellectual and the natural man. The engineer Los, who falls in love with the beautiful Martian Aelita is one side of the Russian character; the free-wheeling former Red Army man Gusev is the other. Aelita, or The Decline of Mars is a classic of Soviet letters, but a very much "doctored"classic, which Tolstoi rewrote over the years as the official ideology changed. The bowdlerized 1939 Soviet edition was used for the only previous English translation which appeared in Moscow in the 1950s, but Professor Fetzer has restored the text that Tolstoi first wrote in exile in Berlin and published in the Soviet journal Red Virgin Soil.