An Alien Hand: Summary and Analysis

An Alien Hand is an amusing fictional story by the astrophysicist Jayant Narlikar. He has narrated the reason behind the Viking missions of NASA’s failure to find life on Mars.

An Alien Hand Summary

Tilloo lived on Mars with his parents. They somehow did not live on the surface of the planet and lived below the surface under artificial conditions. Only some very skilled people with special suits could go under the surface with the help of a reservoir of oxygen for important work. Tilloo’s father was one such person. He went to work through a secret passage.

Tilloo had always been anxious to travel through the passage, and he had never been allowed. One day, Tilloo got the chance. He found his father’s security card and silently made his way towards the forbidden passage. He slipped his father’s card into the slot. The door to the passage opened.

Tilloo was hoping to see the sun or the stars because he had never seen them before. He barely moved ten steps, and the security staff got hold of him and sent him back to his mother. His father decided to explain everything to him properly. He told Tilloo that he could not survive on the surface because the air was too thin and the temperature was too low. He advises that Tilloo must not try to reach the surface of the planet again.

His father told him that once upon a time, their forefathers inhabited the surface, but times have changed since then. A mere change in the sun results in upsetting the balance of nature on the planet. It caused the birds to become extinct, followed by the animals, and then the fish died. Humans managed to survive with the use of superior technology. They used solar energy, and the machines that produce such energy are on the surface. Tilloo’s father was part of a special group. They had the responsibility to look after these machines. Tilloo was assured that he could be a part of the special ground too when he grew up. His mother gave him a warning and said that it could be possible only if he were obedient to his parents.

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When Tulloo’s father went to work the next day, he found that everyone in the Control Room was very excited. They had spotted two space crafts. So far, they were under the perception that they were the only ones in the solar system. The conference room had contained people to its total capacity, but no one spoke a word. They waited for the President to say something.

The President was carefully observing the paper. After a long hiatus. He said that two space crafts were believed to be approaching their planet. One of these two was orbiting the planet, and the other one was still far away. The President guessed that these were from the neighboring planet. He then asked the opinion of his colleagues and said that they had to deal with these together.

Number one, the in-charge of defense, explained what his reports revealed. He said that the spacecraft did not have any living beings and only had instruments. He said that there seemed no need for them to destroy these space crafts. Post their landing; they could choose to make them ineffective. Number Two agreed with Number One. He added that if they destroy the space crafts, they would be revealing their existence. Number Three agreed with what two just said. The President suddenly received the message that the first spacecraft had landed. 

In Tilloo’s life, this was the red-letter day. His father took him to the Control Room. From here, they could watch the alien spacecraft on the TV screen. Tilloo looked at it with great interest. He observed that the panel had several colored buttons. Father told him that the panel was of extreme importance. Using the buttons of the panel, they could make changes or do some things to any part of the spacecraft.

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Suddenly, everyone noticed that there was some movement in the spacecraft; total capacity was glued to the TV screen. Out of the spacecraft, came a mechanical hand that bent and touched the soil. Everyone in the control room watched with great interest. Tilloo could not control himself and went on to press the red button on the panel. This caused a shrill whistle. He was pulled away roughly by his father. The father then restored the button to its earlier position. However, the damage was already caused. The mechanical hand of the spacecraft stopped working.

On Earth, a press conference was held. NASA sent the spacecraft to Mars. At the conference, they said that everything in the spacecraft works well, but the mechanical hand had stopped working. They were confident that they would soon set everything right. 

This was the Earth’s Viking Misson that caused major disappointment to the scientists behind it because they did not find any signs of life on Mars.

An Alien Hand Theme

The story explained how deceptive looks could be. While everyone believed that Tilloo’s pressing the red button was troublesome and damaging, they did know that this caused their identity to remain a secret. While the spacecraft only managed to get the initial looks, they were fooled by how the planet looked and could not find life. Hence, one must get a complete understanding of something before one jumps to conclusions. Also, the story points out that one must not try to control their instincts. Tilloo’s instinct pushed him to press the button. This prevented their identity from being revealed as the hand stopped working.

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An Alien Hand Analysis Key Points

The story is science-fiction that presents life on Mars. The Viking Mission was ventured out in 1976-77. The main objective of the Viking Mission was to get the soil on Mars and get pictures from there to see if life existed there. However, there were people inhabiting below the surface of Mars with the use of superior technology. The story is woven around this. The people on Mars were helpless because natural resources were extinct, and they had to live underground. Suddenly, they notice two space crafts. A young boy pressed some buttons that saved their identity from being revealed.