The lead story in this month's Analog is a stranded-in-space story by Greg A. Lovett called "The Sands of Titan." The narrator, Floyd, is the pilot of a supply delivery capsule that crashes on Titan following a disaster in orbit. Now he is separated from his capsule, which contains air, water, and food, and must walk across 100 kilometers of alien terrain in order to survive. His only companion on the journey is a sentient AI named (somewhat unfortunately) Brittney, who calculates his air and water usage, navigates his path to the capsule, and offers him spiritual encouragement. In a key passage, Brittney taps her archive of texts from Earth and finds a Biblical story that motivates Floyd to continue the near-impossible journey:
"Maybe we both need to learn a lesson from Esther... A biblical character. One of the things I found in Ship's library was the Bible, and I read about her, though I didn't understand her at the time. Now, I think I do. 'I will go to the king,' she said, 'and if I perish, I perish'... The context is complicated, but she was nerving herself to intercede with the king in a situation that was likely to get her killed. She thought about it a while, then just kind of shrugged and decided to just do the best she could. She lived, but what caught my attention was her attitude.""The Sands of Titan" is a fine example not only of how religion can be used in SF; it's an excellent reminder of the continued relevance of religion (and religious stories in particular) in our lives. Floyd's computer can tell him how fast or slow to walk to best conserve his air, or which rock on the horizon to point himself toward to find the capsule, but those things are not enough. It is not until she offers support to the needs of his soul as well as his body that he is able to muster the will to survive across Titan's landscape. The story of Esther is the direct reference made in this story, but in the end it's an illustration of Matthew 4:4: "Man does not live on bread (or compressed air and recycled water) alone."