“The Martian” (short story) by Alexander Kazantsev
English Publication History: A Visitor From Outer Space (Foreign Languages Publishing House, 1961), Soviet Science Fiction (Collier Books, 1962)
Original: Russian (Марсианин), 1958
Translated by Violet L. Dutt, 1961
Synopsis: Entertained by the detailed account of the Tunguska event, the same crew of the Georgy Sedov are eager to hear another story, be it far-fetched or not. A pilot recounts his tale of meeting a peculiar man—long-limbed, large-eyed, short, and bald—in his office coming to speak with him about his willingness to become a member of a manned Mars expedition. Most Soviet applicants take pride in their personal sacrifice to science and the State, but the odd little man says he just wants to return home.
Propaganda: Central Committee of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union for the 60th Anniversary of the Great October Socialist Revolution, propaganda slogan #31:
Young men and women! Persistently educate yourselves in communist convictions! Learn to live, work, and struggle as Leninists, as communists!
Analysis: This is somewhat of a continuation of Kazantsev’s previous story—“A Visitor from Outer Space”—where Martians crash land on Mars having originated from a Socialist civilization and seeking resources. The beginning of the story features the same gullible-slash-eager crew for storytelling; this time, however, the story is told through a pilot and his encounter with an unusual man.
In essence, the Martian who comes to visit Earth and the Soviet Union—albeit a departure from its original mission as the Martian did crash land—is eager to return to his people. His eagerness stems from his one major finding: What had taken thousands of generations of lineage and struggle for the Martians to develop their form of communism, the Soviets have reached the same advanced level in only one-hundred years. Inspired by the feat and spirit of the Soviet people, the Martian wishes to return to Mars in order to spread his enthusiasm of brotherhood.
Progress is commonly seen in terms of technology—the creation and use of it. To proponents of communism, progress is seen in the light of a political ideology championing equality—the creation and practice of it. Most Soviets were proud of both aspects: the creation of communism and the practice of communism. They considered it to be the end-game in all societies where all must be shared for social progress. The Martians reach that same point after hundreds of thousands of years, making it their own end-game of an equal society. The sheer triumph of the Soviet people to push forward with this mindset inspires the Martian.
Review: This story is, by far, the most gung-ho about communism—its creation and practice. To view it in a more favorable light of advanced progress, Kazantsev compares the USSR’s development of communism in decades with the Martians’ development of the same in millennia. It’s very heavily built upon a Soviet-centric view of their pride, minus the flag-waving, anthem-singing, and America-bashing. If there were piece of Soviet science fiction that trumps the propaganda of this story, it’d surprise me.