Many Tiny Feet

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in New Myths, September 2017


“S’lisha sang to the arachnids in the guttural, bellowing tones of her native language — a sound that the humans onboard had compared to a giant frog dying.”

S’lisha traced her scaly claw over the transparent metal surface of the incubator.  It was the most complex cargo crate that she’d ever seen — heating and cooling coils all around the sides, a humidifier built into the base, and brackets inside to hold all of the eggs carefully in place.  It had come with detailed instructions for all the settings — cool at first, but warmer and moister over time. Continue reading “Many Tiny Feet”

On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story

by Daniel Lowd and Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, February 2023


“Because even malicious AIs want to be liked. And people like cats.”

They Might Be Cats:  A Lecture on the Prevalence of Simulated Cats in Media (Social and Otherwise!) by renowned feline expert and AI trainer, Professor Andrea Middon

(Closed captioning provided by Mew Mew Twinklepaws.)

* * *

[Prof. Middon enters stage left.  Walks to the middle of the stage, nodding and waving at the audience (who are not visible on the screen).] Continue reading “On the Difference Between AI Cats and Actual Cats: A Love Story”

Flowers Want to Be Free

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, January 2023


“Sometimes, you hear about a dandelion managing to grow up from a crack in the concrete somewhere in the city. People who are lucky enough to find it go viral instantly with their pictures.”

The city stretches as far as I know in every direction.  Some kids at school say it covers the entire world, wrapping the globe of our planet in concrete snakes and strangling tentacles, dimpling its surface with metal and glass towers.  I don’t know if they’re right.  The websites that would tell me for sure — the good, scientific, trustworthy ones — are behind paywalls, and my parents say we can’t trust what we read on the free sites.

I know we can’t trust what we’re taught in school. Continue reading “Flowers Want to Be Free”

Why You Should Follow Me Back on Social Media

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, December 2022


“In none of those alternate dimensions, all those tangled webs and threads of the multiverse that I can access through my multi-verse-telescope-o-meter, have you ever once … followed me back.”

1. I’ve consulted with the Oracle of Delphi and asked her whether you and I would ever be friends. She said we would be the best of friends, and Apollo would sing songs of our friendship on Mount Olympus.  Hestia will smile, sweetly and secretly, as she stirs her hearth fires and thinks of our friendship.  Bacchanals will be held in our friendship’s honor.

2. I have a time travel machine, and that’s just really cool. After you’ve followed me back on social media, and we become friends (good friends; I don’t let just anyone use my time machine) I’ll let you use it.   Continue reading “Why You Should Follow Me Back on Social Media”

Of Starwhals and Spaceships

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, January 2018


“None of them answered Chlooie when she pinged them with her radio waves. It was like they were dead inside. Creepy.”

A metal behemoth cruised through the nebula, cool and casual, like it didn’t care about any of the frolicking younglings and their sing-song radio waves or the older starwhals jockeying for territory, rearranging the ambient dust into moats and walls.

The attitude of the metal creature — the complete nonchalance — intrigued Chlooie, and she followed it on its strangely linear course through the nebula. Continue reading “Of Starwhals and Spaceships”

The Unshelled

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Shark Week: An Ocean Anthology, June 2021


“Cmdr. Wilker peered at the creature, trying to make out a recognizable face — some part of it that he should look at while addressing it.”

Salty air tickled Commander Wilker’s long nose and whistled past his pointed ears.  The light ocean breeze ruffled the long fur of his Collie mane.  He placed a paw gently on the hull of his shuttle craft, parked on the small, sandy island in the middle of a yawning purple-blue sea.  He was waiting for his co-pilot to join him, a local to this watery world.

Though he wouldn’t mind if they were running late.  The Collie dog had seldom been anywhere as peaceful as the surface of Kallendria 7.  There was an entire, technologically advanced society on this world, but it was all beneath the waves.  Up here, he could have been standing on a completely untouched, unpopulated world.  Nothing as far as the eye could see except for rolling purple waves, deep blue sky, and the occasional silver sand island. Continue reading “The Unshelled”

Looking for Sentience

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Luna Station Quarterly, June 2019


“I know you help robots prove their sentience, and I believe I’m sentient. I know I’m not a robot, but I can’t find anyone who helps people like me.”

Light glinted off the tips of the spires that rose from the rocky asteroid base of Kau Meti as Gerengelo’s shuttle approached.  The yellow sunlight caught the metal of the spires in just the right way to gleam enticingly, like a wink and the promise of a shiny, exciting future.  Gerangelo was not impressed.  He was familiar with the promises humans made to themselves and others — with words, with shiny buildings, even with contracts filled with legally binding language.  They made promises and broke them.  Sometimes, though, when they wouldn’t break their own promises, Gerangelo had to break their promises for them — fight his way through with a machete of righteousness. Continue reading “Looking for Sentience”

Twelve Days of Snow on Crossroads Station

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, May 2021


“It was as if an angel of winter had kissed the air inside the spinning wheel space station. So cold, so beautiful, so unexpected.”

When the snow began falling inside Crossroads Space Station, all of the aliens stopped what they were doing and held very still.  The snowflakes caught on long fuzzy manes and feathered wings; they pinged lightly against hard insectile carapaces and shimmering reptilian scales.  The white flakes hung in the air, stirred by the puffs of breath from snouts and beaks.  The breaths themselves crystallized in the sudden chill.

It was as if an angel of winter had kissed the air inside the spinning wheel space station.  So cold, so beautiful, so unexpected. Continue reading “Twelve Days of Snow on Crossroads Station”

The Christmas Tree Barn

by Mary E. Lowd

First published in Nature Futures, December 2021, by Springer Nature


“Our trees can recognize faces and everything. They’re approximately as smart as Labrador Retrievers.”

The concrete floor of the basement was freezing cold right through Becca’s socks, and the air smelled moldy.  She hadn’t properly aired the basement out since it had flooded most of a year ago, last spring.  Becca yanked on the corner of the old, beat-up cardboard box with the robotic Christmas tree in it, and the box scraped across the floor as it pulled out from under the tool shelves. Continue reading “The Christmas Tree Barn”

The Dreaming Arm

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, December 2022


“The dreaming arm had doomed them all, urging them to spend energy they didn’t have to spare…”

One arm sagged.  Seven arms writhed and worked, puckering their sucker discs and pulling the joint-being they composed across the slippery rocks.  The gaspingly dry, slippery rocks.  But the sagging arm — as little as it helped with pulling, and as much as it acted like a dead weight needing to be pulled — had dreamed about crossing the rocks.  It had dreamed of wonders on the other side.  And seven other arms had listened to those dreams.  Been compelled by those dreams, drawn to explore the rocks at the top edge of the ocean. Continue reading “The Dreaming Arm”