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March 2nd, 2012, 12:44 AM
While I'm convinced this is a well-known tale that I've just lost the vitals on...

I remember the protagonist as a youth, that the story is mainly on Mars, and that it includes diminutive monkey-like aliens that he is perhaps trying to protect.

The aliens are proved intelligent and save the boy (and, I think, the antagonist) when his spacecraft is plunging into the sun because they have long, slender, prehensile fingers that are able to repair a damaged instrument panel very quickly.