This is a Matheson-like story where the human race, once widespread in the galaxy, was beaten back to our home planet after a devastating interstellar war. The aliens won the war and the Moon -- an artificial monitoring station -- was moved into orbit around the Earth to ensure that humanity would stay put, by a final treaty. (Yeah, I know, even as a kid I thought the Moon was improbably large and massive for this purpose.) Our species collapsed into barbarism but the aliens kept their end of the bargain and simply continued to watch across the millennia. I don't recall further details. What WAS that story, anyway?

There was also a comic-book story with a very similar plot, but that is a different question. The story appeared in an English-language anthology read probably in the 1960s, possibly as late as the 70s.

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    I've read quite a few of Richard Matheson's stories, and I'm not at all sure what quality you mean by "Matheson-like". Please explain. – user14111 May 19 '19 at 17:05
  • Hmm. Matheson had a twisted (occasionally farcical) sense of humor. In this case, it may be more accurate to say that he appreciated surprise twists in the narrative. Things (e.g., the Moon, the history of the human race) are not what they seem at first. Aside from that, his stories often end in tragedy or helplessness; you can't count on a happy resolution (humanity finds itself restricted to its home planet for past crimes none of us remember). Both of these features are present in this story. Brian Aldiss is another author who could write like this, but he wrote in a more literary style. – Invisible Trihedron May 19 '19 at 18:30
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    It seems like the description of these two stories is almost exactly the same. Are they different in any way, or is it like that one is an adaptation of the other? – Adamant May 19 '19 at 18:42
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    If they're really the same, they technically need only one question. – Adamant May 19 '19 at 20:10
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    For people coming to this in the weeks, months, and years to come: the people above are discussing scifi.stackexchange.com/q/212791/21871 . – JdeBP May 21 '19 at 7:42

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