Montese Crandall is a downtrodden writer whose rare collection of baseball cards won't sustain him, financially or emotionally, through the grave illness of his wife. Luckily, he swindles himself a job churning out a novelization of the 2025 remake of a 1963 horror film, The Crawling Hand. Crandall tells therein of the United States, in a bid to regain global eminence, launching at last its doomed manned mission to Mars. Three space pods with nine Americans on board travel three months, expecting to spend three years as the planet's first colonists. When a secret mission to retrieve a flesh-eating bacterium for use in bio-warfare is uncovered, mayhem ensues.Only a lonely human arm (missing its middle finger) returns to earth, crash-landing in the Arizona desert. The arm may hold the secret to reanimation or it may simply be an infectious killing machine. It's crawl through the heartbroken wasteland of civilization is recorded in this stunningly inventive, sometimes hilarious, monumental novel.