“A Purpose for Stars” appears in the latest issue of Analog. It’s a brief, tight story, about a surgeon on a distant planet caring for the planet’s bird-like native population.
Like so many good sci-fi stories, “A Purpose for Stars” includes interesting technology, but at its heart, the story is really about people.
McNaughton builds a the basics of a culture within the story, and the contrast between what the aliens thinks is important and what its human protagonist at first understands to be important forms the central conflict. It’s a story about risks and relationships.
I always find myself drawn to Analog‘s bite-sized stories first, after the poetry, of course. I appreciate the small moments that writers of these pieces, like McNaughton’s, can create. Especially when the moments linger, like the light of a distant, too-temporary star.