One Alien’s Wings

“They’re vestigial,” Lee-a-lei intoned, holding out a knife with one of her six claw-like hands. “Cut them off.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Empyreome, September 2017


Lee-a-lei’s wide wings fluttered, casting pools of colored light that chased each other across the walls of the robotics laboratory.  The harsh fluorescents from the ceiling softened to warm reds, golds, and chips of blue or green as they passed through her translucent wings. Continue reading “One Alien’s Wings”

Sky River

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Theme of Absence, July 2017

“Over the last six decades, less than a lifetime, the Lottians had schemed and plotted to claim their birthright in the ice that had taunted their ancestors’ dreams.”

The blue sun of Lottie IV glinted off the watery world’s ice rings.  Rocky chunks of diamond gleamed with sapphire light, stretched in a crescent across the world’s pale sky.  Its inhabitants — a long-spined, thick-furred, water-breathing, lutrinae species — had stared at that crescent of glittering ice from Lottie’s oceans for generations.  Out of reach.  Unconquerable. Continue reading “Sky River”

Treasure Moon

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, December 2017

“The alarms were only an automated safety system. There were no sentient guards here, neither biological nor robotic.”

Alarm bells rang out and lights flashed red from the corners of the buildings on either side of the street.  A mechanical turret rising out of the middle of the mountaintop base swung around and cast invisible laser beams, searching for the intruder, but Rikkita threw herself to the ground and spread her wide, bushy tail over her back.  The fur on her tail was ultra-dark black; it would confuse the algorithms processing the data from the lasers.  As long as she held still, she was safe. Continue reading “Treasure Moon”

Hidden Feelings

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, November 2015

Blue and green lights twinkled on the medi-bot as it spoke: “Depression is a very serious issue on a spaceship.”

The spines on S’lisha’s neck twitched, but she kept them from extending into a thorny display of her anger.  The spaceship captain wanted the boxes of robot arms on his cargo deck rearranged yet again.  If he’d explained himself clearly in the first place, it would have saved so much time.  S’lisha seethed silently and imagined crushing the spaceship captain with his own cargo. Continue reading “Hidden Feelings”

Heart of the Gas Giant

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, February 2018


“Would Doripauli’s fleet follow her into the gas giant or wait for her to emerge? Did they know why Arellnor was here?”

The heart of the gas giant was the key.  Arellnor had traveled from one star system to another; at every stop, she’d traded her vehicle — first her trusty shuttle for a star-hopper, then that for a space mecha-suit and finally back to another shuttle.  She’d altered her appearance, buying gene-therapy or cosmetic-sculpting every chance she got.  She barely remembered what she’d been originally — some sort of space frog?  Today, she was a burly antelope-like alien; her fingers were rough and hard, and antlers rose from her head like spires.  None of it had been enough.  They were still chasing her. Continue reading “Heart of the Gas Giant”

Go High

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, January 2018


“Her avian friends wouldn’t be safe in a cloud like that, but Evban’s mechanical wings were coated with electrical dampeners that would shield her from the lightning.”

Evban flapped her mechanical wings joyously, dipping and swooping through New Jupiter’s soupy pink-and-gold clouds.  Her whiskers tickled against the glassy bubble of her breathing-helmet, and her long tail streamed out behind her.  She’d drifted away from the flock of avian aliens.  Their organic wings were broader and stronger than her little mechanical ones, but she knew her friends would come back for her before the space shuttle returned for them all. Continue reading “Go High”

Winged Folk Only

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, January 2018


“Fine,” Evben squeaked at the much larger aliens. “I’ll get wings.”

“You can’t come on the voyage,” the Ululu sneered, folding his wings in a very cross manner.  “Winged folk only.”

Evben tried to object, but all the other avians lounging about the bar took up the Ululu’s catchy cry:  “That’s right!  Winged folk only!”  The feathers around the Ululu’s eyes crinkled happily; if he hadn’t been a beaked species, he’d have been grinning.  The Ululu had been looking for a way to exclude Evben from Avian Night at the All Alien Cafe since she’d first started coming, but the cafe owner stood up for the little mousey alien’s right to participate.  Even if she wasn’t any sort of bird. Continue reading “Winged Folk Only”

Sandbeard the Pirate Otter

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published by Furvana, June 2019


“Then paw to pedal, pedal to metal, her trawler screeched silently away through the vacuum of space, crenulated seashell sailing along behind it.”

Sandbeard the pirate otter, fiercest of the fierce, fuzziest of the fuzzy, and the best bewhiskered of all sea otters, steered her stolen space-trawler into the curving gravity well of a small oceanic moon.  The lunar ocean was beautiful beneath her trawler — purple and choppy, swelling with swirling water, but toxic as a scorpionfish.  Nice to look at; useless for swimming.  But Sandbeard wasn’t here for a vacation; she was a pirate, and she was ready to pillage and plunder. Continue reading “Sandbeard the Pirate Otter”

Of Cakes and Robots

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Theme of Absence, November 2016


“The robot was surprisingly indecisive for a creature with a computer for a brain — first it wanted red frosting, then blue, and finally settled on green.”

Chirri watched the robot lumber back and forth outside her bakery window for several minutes, seeming undecided, before it came in.  Once inside, the metal creature with its dome-shaped head and boxy limbs perused the displays of sugary confections, fancy layered cakes, and simple cookies.  Chirri’s tufted triangular ears splayed in confusion at the sight.  There were lots of robots on Crossroads Station, but none of them had ever frequented her bakery before.  Robots don’t have much need for cake. Continue reading “Of Cakes and Robots”

The Ugly Sapling

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Empyreome, January 2019


“If it couldn’t be a fruit tree like them, it didn’t want to be a fruit tree at all.”

Once upon a springtime in a magical garden, three saplings were planted in a row, along the bank of a sapphire lake.  They were barely more than sticks, standing awkwardly in the sandy ground with their branch-arms raised toward the sky.  All three looked alike, and they shivered together in their nakedness.

Continue reading “The Ugly Sapling”