The first English translation of a Russian sf novel which--though it first appeared in 1921--is still remarkable for its valid science and its disturbing social insights. In a rocketship powered by ""ultralyddite,"" starry-eyed engineer Los and tough-minded ex-soldier Gusev hurtle off at relativistic velocities to Mars--where they discover an advanced (though declining) civilization. But the Martians, who have long memories (of ancient invasions from Atlantis), are none too pleased to see the Earthmen. Wary but less hostile is the beautiful and intelligent Aelita, daughter of Martian biggie Tuskub. So, while Los dailies with Aelita, Gusev joins a revolt by the oppressed Martian workers (who look to Earth for support)--and Tuskub opposes them with overwhelming force, fearing a new disastrous invasion from Earth. The revolt is doomed, then; and Los (who loses Aelita) will sadly return to Earth. Tolstoy's Mars is persuasively drawn, with fine ironic touches. The love story is often tenderly lyrical. And the obvious parallels to early-Revolutionary Russia make this a worthy import with both historical interest and sf entertainment-value.