Aelita

by Alexei Tolstoy

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Tolstoi published two science fiction novels, both of which appeared in the experimental 1920s and which were revised during the following decades of Stalinist terror.

Aelita (1923) is a science-fiction fantasy in the manner of H.G. Wells, telling the story of a Soviet expedition to Mars with the aim of establishing communism. A Red Army officer foments a rebellion of the native Martians, who are in fact long-ago emigrants from Atlantis. The story was adapted into a screenplay in 1924. Its futuristic, expressionistic sets were designed by Isaac Rabinovitch of the Kamerny Theatre.

The film influenced the design in Flash Gordon, a space opera, which was created by the artist Alex Raymond in 1934 and led to a popular radio serial and several films. Giperboloid inzhenera Garina (1926, The Death Box) described an attempt of an unscrupulous inventor to use his death ray to conquer the world. He manages to rule a decadently capitalist USA for a short period.

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