This is a short story (6673 words) from the April 1941 edition of Astounding Science-Fiction. The eBook version comes from FadedPage
Somehow, I thought the term "slacker" came into our lexicon with Marty McFly and Back to the Future
. That would be 1985, a mere three decades ago. Nope, it seems the term was used much earlier, as in this story from 1941, for example. It also seems that there's a 1918 silent film about a slacker. Oh well.
Anyway, I chose this story for the title and the association in my mind with Marty McFly. That was a mistake. It's an old-fashioned Science Fiction story that I likely would have liked when I was an 11-year old, but which doesn't do much for me now that I'm entering my dotage.
It seems that there is intergalactic warfare between the Federation and the Callistans, and the allies of each. Alan MacKay, a Lieutenant (jg), has found himself trapped running an SP boat for the Federation. People on the SP boats never have to go off to engage the enemy. Nope, they just take messages and look around and stuff. Many people are comfortable on SP boats, and the "SP" becomes a shorthand for "slacker's paradise": nothing much to do, nothing much about which to worry; no danger, but also no glory. McKay wishes for more, but is stuck being with the slackers. Then a routine mission takes a strange turn.