“Broken Tool,” Theodore L. Thomas, 1959 — Carter and Cecil Hardy await the return of Carter’s prodigy in the deep space program, the young Lightner. If Lightner returns from space and seeks out his home on Earth, he’ll have passed the last phase of the space program entrance test. As Hardy explains, a man who loves his work and nothing else is a fanatic, and Earth has no use for spacers who have nothing on Earth which they hold dear. Yet, when Lightner returns to the small town, a place of eternal present and predictable normalcy, he finds it has nothing to offer him. In fact, he’s shown them: His dream of space always had made him an outcast, in that the townspeople had never believed he could make it. And his parents are dead–he has no family here and no desire to start one. He turns around and begins walking back to the ship.
Comments: Read in Kindred Spirits: An Anthology of Gay and Lesbian Science Fiction Stories, presumably due to the homoerotic undertones (Carter’s mysterious “feelings” for Lightner), the misfit, and the observers’ desire for normative behavior.
Author: Wikipedia: “Theodore Lockard Thomas (born 1920) is an American chemical engineer and attorney who wrote more than 50 science fiction short stories, published between the early 1950s to the late 1970s. He also collaborated on two novels with Kate Wilhelm, as well as producing stories under the pseudonyms of Leonard Lockard and Cogswell Thomas, and has been nominated for a Nebula award and a Hugo Award.”