‘It’s Great To Be Back’ by Robert A. Heinlein
The introduction begins: “Robert A. Heinlein was generally regarded as the best science fiction writer working in the field between 1939 and his death in 1988.” H&C should perhaps have added the caveat “in America”. Heinlein’s influence and popularity can’t be denied but both are markedly higher in the US and by the time I started reading SF all his books were out of print in the UK. A consequence of this is that I have only read two of his novels. The first was Stranger In A Strange Land which I read whilst staying with a family friend. Perhaps it was unfortunate that on the same trip I also read JG Ballard’s Crash but Heinlein’s novel made absolutely no impression. Years later, after countless paeans to him on r.a.sf.w and other online fora, I bought an imported copy of The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress, allegedly his single finest work. It is utter garbage.
‘It’s Great To Be Back’ is a skin-crawlingly horrible Libertarian fantasy. A pair of highly privileged bellends are fed up with life in the Moon and emigrate back to Earth. Lo and behold, the grass is greener on the other side. They are soon desperate to return to the Moon where no one is stupid or poor because the corporations have rigourously screened out such undesirables:
The fact that Luna City is the most comfortable environment that man ever built for himself is unimportant; it’s people who count.
The introduction ends by describing it as: “a story that confirms what all superior intelligencies (such as the reader) already know, that the future in space is better for you, unless you are an ignorant, lazy, evolutionary reject. Hard science fiction is a literature of, and for, survivors.” Funny, for a minute I thought that last word was going to be “fascists”.