I'll admit that I picked this particular panel discussion at the Dublin Worldcon
because its moderator is Ian Sales, who was the editor of the anthology Rocket Science
, in which he published my short story "Tell Me a Story." And yes, my story has one scene which takes place in a lunar settlement -- and the entire story is about how successive generations view a children's book called The Astronaut and the Man in the Moon
Early stories about voyages to the Moon were more on the order of fantasy than science fiction, and often had an allegorical or satirical element in them. That is, they were more to hold a mirror to their contemporary society than to extrapolate conditions on the actual Moon, about which almost nothing was known at the time.
More interesting (in my mind, at least) is looking at various pre-Apollo hard-sf depictions of voyages to the Moon or life in settlements on the moon and seeing what they got right and what they got wrong. Jules Verne's novel of a voyage to the Moon is interesting in how it parallels the actual Apollo missions -- his Columbiad
(one letter off from the actual Apollo XI Command Module's call sign, Columbia
) launches from Florida (albeit from Tampa, on the Gulf Coast at roughly the same latitude as Cape Canaveral) and splashes down in the Pacific Ocean. However, he used a giant gun rather than a multi-stage rocket, and while his calculations were surprisingly close, they ignored the problems of keeping the g-forces survivable for living passengers.
Robert A. Heinlein wrote a number of stories and novels that included voyages to the Moon or life on the Moon. "The Man Who Sold the Moon" is the story of Delos D. Harriman, the man who financed the first lunar landing in the original Future History. The actual first lunar landing in the Primary World turned out to be a government project, part of our Cold War with the Soviet Union, but as the second age of space is opening, both Elon Musk (SpaceX) and Jeff Bezos (Blue Origin) have been compared to Harriman as the entrepreneur who will make space travel commercially successful and humanity truly a spacefaring species.
Best known of Heinlein's lunar fiction is The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress
, which arguably belongs to a second future history of stories that are sometimes confused with the original Future History. It's the story of the birth of the Luna Free State which was mentioned in The Rolling Stones
, and was written right about the time the Mercury and Gemini missions were providing information on how humans handled spaceflight, and some of the early Surveyor
robotic probes were returning data from soft landings on the lunar surface. It's interesting that Heinlein did foresee the effects of lowered gravity on human physiology, although some critics have suggested that he may have overstated the case for plot purposes. We do know from the long duration missions on both Mir and the ISS that weightlessness weakens the body, and the effects are to some degree permanent, although astronauts and cosmonauts have gotten pretty much back to normal within a few months after returning to Earth. What we do not know is how reduced
gravity affects biological systems -- which is why the cancellation of a centrifuge module for the ISS, which would have permitted variable gravity experiments with small mammals such as mice, is such a shame.