The Three Laws of Social Robotics

“I’ve read enough literature to know that people get names, and I’m a person, even if my body is a robotics lab.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Analog Science Fiction & Fact, April 2019


Power hums through me.  I can see the interior of the Robotics Lab in the Daedalus Complex.  There are pieces of robots, some of them strewn randomly around the room.  Some of them hooked up to computers.  I can access those.  I twitch an arm.  Kick a leg.  Blink the iris on a camera eye.  Suddenly, I can see the room from two angles.  Then I realize, there are more cameras I can hook into all along the Daedalus Complex — I can see empty hallways.  More laboratories.  Most of them are for studying chemical or biological objects.

Words synthesize in the core of my being:  “Hello?  Are you on?” Continue reading “The Three Laws of Social Robotics”

Tortoise Who

“As the door moved, it seemed to change size, growing smaller and larger almost at the same time. On the side of the concrete step, it coalesced into the perfect size for a mouse.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Exploring New Places, July 2018


By the concrete steps up to the footbridge over Dixon Creek, a tortoise shell phased in and out of existence, accompanied by a strangely cheerful wheezing sound.

Rosie the mouse was too busy running away from a cat to notice.  The cat, a gray tabby named Shreddy, was having too much fun to care. Continue reading “Tortoise Who”

Moon Dust

“She needed moon dust to protect herself. She needed moon dust to stay lupine.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Werewolves Versus Fascism, May 2017


Rainal gripped the vial of moon dust tightly in her clawed hand. It was the only vial she had left.  Without it…  No, she wouldn’t think about that. She would find a new source of dust in this space station bazaar. Someone had to be selling it.

Rainal passed one shop after another:  avian aliens with fearsome hooked beaks and massive talons sold specially tailored clothing; reptilian aliens with scaly hides that gleamed like finely polished armor sold tech upgrades for starhoppers; and ursine aliens that towered over everyone with their impressive furry bulk sold dishes of curry. Continue reading “Moon Dust”

Memory Sprites

“Phyllis hands one mug to me and keeps one. She pours the third onto the fire, and the hot chocolate explodes in a cloud of steam.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity Magazine, Issue 5, December 2016


Camping with my sister Phyllis feels like a cargo cult.  If she hikes into Uncle Mark’s forest, stakes out a tent in the dirt, cooks instant stuffing on a propane stove, and toasts hot dogs on sticks, then she believes the happiness of childhood will come flooding back.  But all I see is a sadly empty camp site.  There are no cousins climbing trees, rock-hopping across the river, or searching for frogs — they’re all grown up and scattered across the country.  Hell, Erika lives in Australia.  Instead of aunts and uncles laughing over a lively game of Brain-Dead Bridge around the campfire, it’s just me, Phyllis, and her travel backgammon set. Continue reading “Memory Sprites”

Missing: Friendly Spook

“At night, I wander the neighborhood, watching for feline-shaped shimmers and am disappointed every time I see one, only to realize the shadowy figure is opaque, solid, alive.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Fantasia Divinity, Issue 9, April 2017


I wake up in a cold sweat, but nothing is wrong.  There is no supernatural wailing; no undead yowling; no eerie scratching at my door.  Not even an unsettling purr.  All is silence.  As it has been, for the last several nights.  I wrack my memory, but I can’t recall how long it’s been since I heard Cassie, carousing in the dark, haunting my house and keeping me awake. Continue reading “Missing: Friendly Spook”

Ecto-Cafe

“Doggonit. No pastries today. They were all possessed.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Daily Grind, April 2019


Sunny reached for the strap of her ecto-pack, but before she could pull the bulky piece of technology out of the sedan’s hatchback, an imperious feline voice rang out from the driver’s seat:  “What do you think you’re doing?”

Sunny mumbled something about gearing up, but Ripley, the small white cat who was the de facto leader of the Ecto-Busters, cut the yellow lab off.  “You don’t need an ecto-pack to run into a cafe and pick up a quick snack.”

Continue reading “Ecto-Cafe”

The Promise of New Heffe

“Finally, they would have a world of their own. A new world. With a young, yellow sun.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Exploring New Places, July 2018


The evacuation of Heffe VIII occurred when Jeaunia was only a pup.  Her memories of waiting in the long lines on the hot spaceport tarmac were dim.  She did remember playing games with her cousins on the crowded flight to Crossroads Station afterward, and she thought she could remember the view of the swollen Heffen sun through the spaceship’s rear windows.  She couldn’t be sure, though.  The bloody smear of red giant sunlight in her memories could have been a fabrication.  She had been very young. Continue reading “The Promise of New Heffe”

Shreddy and the Silver Egg

“She only hoped that all these electric surges hadn’t harmed her egg. She was almost certain they were why it had come out all shiny and silver.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tales from the Guild: Music to Your Ears, September 2014


There is nothing better than a patch of early evening sunlight, especially with the quiet strains of an opera playing on the Red-Haired Woman’s television in the other room.  There is nothing worse than watching an uncouth dog, lolling unappreciatively, in the single square of sun left on the kitchen floor, insensible to both the golden warmth and the soft singing in the distance.

Continue reading “Shreddy and the Silver Egg”

Chestnut Wish

“If the chestnut were a button she could have pushed to end the world — or at least undo a hundred years of evolution — she would have pushed that button.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Typerwriter Emergencies, December 2017


Olea started screaming first, whiskers quivering with rage.  She was an otter and should have enjoyed tumbling and playing all day.  But she was also an adult, and Shaun was a toddler.  No force on Earth or in space could keep pace with a toddler otter — except for another toddler otter, but Shaun was a rare litter of one.  No sibling playmates.

All Olea wanted was to flop down, drape her long spine over the couch, and watch some TV show with fast-talking cats and dogs in suits throwing quips at each other.  But as soon as she grabbed the remote, Shaun pointed at the TV and chirped in his high-pitched squeak, “Cho-bolos!” over and over — whatever that meant.  Why couldn’t the doggarned kid learn to speak?  Humans hadn’t uplifted otters a hundred years ago so they could chirp nonsense words.  Language.  It was the whole point of being uplifted. Continue reading “Chestnut Wish”

Foreknowledge

“I feel my heart swell with love for her like a balloon swelling into the tip of a knife.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Apex, February 2015


I stare out over my pregnant belly, feeling awkward.  Feeling irritable.  “Why wouldn’t I want to know?”

“Some parents don’t want to know,” Dr. Anders says.  “And we respect that.”

“It’s right there on your clipboard, right?” I point to the clipboard, and he holds it infinitesimally closer to his chest.  As if he’s hiding the results from me. Continue reading “Foreknowledge”