My Sister, the Space Station

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, August 2023

“Will a space station — where people just live their lives, instead of doing groundbreaking scientific research — be painfully boring after having been my own glorious self, inhabiting and haunting the computers of Wespirtech?”

The people walk my halls like it’s any normal day.  Scientists work on their research.  Administrators try to balance budgets without understanding why they’re constantly coming unbalanced.  (I unbalance them.  Humans don’t know what they should spend their money on as well as I do.)  And everyone acts like it’s a perfectly normal day.

But it’s not a normal day. Continue reading “My Sister, the Space Station”

The Girl Who Could Hear the Stars Sing

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Beyond Wespirtech, November 2023

“If the stars had chosen her — somehow — to be their scribe, then it was not for her to turn the role down.”

It was so beautiful that the weight of it made her feel weak inside.  She cried, and no one knew why.  No one else could hear the music.  But Brianna could hear it inside.

Brianna’s parents didn’t understand.  They thought their child simply had an artistic sensitive soul, and perhaps, she was unusually susceptible to sunstroke.  They tried to keep her inside on sunny days, especially in the middle of the summer.  But Brianna craved the sun.  It made her cry, but it also made her giggly and manic.  Sunlight could make her happier than anything else — that voice whispering in her heart, rising and falling, raising expectations, holding out a moment longer than she thought she could stand, and then resolving.  The music Brianna heard was the fabric of her life. Continue reading “The Girl Who Could Hear the Stars Sing”

Summers on Sylverra

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Beyond Wespirtech, November 2023

“She’d grown up on a normal planet with actual cities full of people, not some weird backwater world where literally every sentient creature had been created by one mad scientist, drunk with his own abilities, high on his own power.”

The ship shifting into orbit woke Tara up, but she kept her eyes closed, listening to her parents talk.

“It always scares me coming here,” Tara’s mother said.  “Your dad makes such beautiful illusions for Tara.  I’m afraid some day that she’ll choose not to come home.”

Tara was curled up on the ratty old couch on the back of their starhopper’s bridge.  It was a loveseat and not meant to be slept on; she barely fit on it anymore.  Her parents were sitting in the pilot and co-pilot seats, right in front of the viewscreen that must have shown the emerald and azure sphere of Grandpa Brent’s planet, Sylverra. Continue reading “Summers on Sylverra”

Breathing the Air at Wespirtech

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Welcome to Wespirtech, October 2023

“Doesn’t it bother you that we live in a galaxy filled with all kinds of different aliens, but almost everyone here is human?”

The girl was science; chemistry personified, manifested in a physical form.  This is not to say that the other scientists of Wespirtech were lining up in a snaky queue through the Daedalus Complex halls to see her, study her, consult with her like she was some sort of oracle.  At least, Keida didn’t think so.  Her new roommate, Rhiannon, was too quiet, and serious, to draw that kind of attention.

No, it meant Keida could see chemistry thoughts as they formed in Rhiannon’s brain.  The evidence was perfectly clear on her face; a look that bespoke particles and molecules moving, joining, breaking apart and reforming in an abstract space she saw, approximately five inches above her own head.  Keida was afraid to interrupt.  A single word from her might break the spell.  All those invisible molecules would dissipate and undo hours of silent work. Continue reading “Breathing the Air at Wespirtech”

The Elephant Bride’s Bouquet

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, August 2023

“There were strict rules about harvesting the plants in the arboretum, and no matter how much she’d always wanted to curl her trunk around the stems of the flowers and snap off pretty buds, she had never dared break the rules.”

Jeko lifted her trunk and trumpeted along with the latest Star-Shaker song which she’d turned up to completely fill her small room aboard Crossroads Station.  Her trunk swayed along with the beat, and the reptilian pop-star’s lilting, raspy voice was loud enough that Jeko didn’t have to feel embarrassed about her own brassy tones.  The elephantine alien never sang in front of other people, but she loved to sing when she was alone.  Especially when she was happy. Continue reading “The Elephant Bride’s Bouquet”

The Seamstress Robot and the Insect Bride

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, July 2023

“Am-lei’s mother had, at least, enjoyed the benefit of having beautiful, colorful, butterfly wings that distracted humans from the Kafkaesque qualities of her actual body.”

The Seamstress Robot’s shop was a little hole in the wall in the Merchant’s Quarter of Crossroads Station.  The seamstress robot herself looked a lot like a giant mechanical spider — all spindly silver legs, overly jointed and coming to extremely delicate points, capable of grabbing, manipulating, and piercing fabric.  Also, generating fabric.  The seamstress robot, like an actual spider, could generate silk.  And synthetic cotton.  And synth wool.  And velvet, taffeta, patterned prints, fake leather… just about any material you could imagine could be generated, strand by strand, from the tip of her 3D printer leg. Continue reading “The Seamstress Robot and the Insect Bride”


by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in What the Fox?!, March 2018

“The chicken-alien was easily four times Lt. Vonn’s current size, and even if the puppy could knock away its blaster, those talons and beak looked fierce.”

Lieutenant Libby Unari, a black cat and science officer with a focus on botany, had a tray of biology samples in her lap — cuttings and sprouts, planted in soil samples — taken from a forest moon.  The moon itself hung like a green star in the rear window of the shuttle craft, receding into the distance as they flew away.

“That was a very peaceful away mission,” Captain Pierre Jacques meowed.  The pink-skinned Sphynx cat didn’t usually accompany away teams down to previously unexplored planets, but he’d made an exception for this forest moon.  “Why, I don’t think I’ve felt that relaxed since I was a kitten!  I should get off the bridge of the Initiative more often.”

Lt. Unari’s black triangular ears skewed.  “I don’t think it was just the break from your daily routine…  There’s something very strange about some of these plants.  Continue reading “Rapscallions”

Skin of Reflection

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tri-Galactic Trek, November 2021

“At home on Ursa Minuet, Grawf had been a commander, but in the Tri-Galactic Navy exchange program, she was an ensign.”

Grawf awoke from her long sleep, yawned widely, and lumbered out of her cot and over to the window.  Her ursine reflection hovered ghost-like over the black field of space, a bulky, brown-furred bear in plaid pajamas, dotted by pinpricks of starlight.  She wondered where the starship Initiative had flown to, what wonderous places had been explored without her, during her hibernation. Continue reading “Skin of Reflection”

Clever Hansel 2020

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, March 2023

“…he felt the upgrade chip click into place. And instantly, everything grew a million times more complicated.”

Engleine hesitated with the upgrade chip mere millimeters from the docking port in her beloved Hansel’s head.  His mechanical ear flicked, and he said, “You stopped.  Why?”

“Are you sure you’re ready for this upgrade?” Engleine asked.  Her own conical ears — a biological mirror of his mechanical ones — had flattened behind her long head.  She shuffled her hind hooves on the floor, and her keratinous hoof-fingers tightened on the upgrade chip that would push Hansel — her dance partner and best friend — from the seeming-sentience that had fooled her into believing he was fully his own person into an actual sentient robot. Continue reading “Clever Hansel 2020”

The Rocky Spires of Planet 227

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Exploring New Places, July 2018

“Captain Jacques hoped these spires were the remnants of a long-ago civilization. He longed to search for signs of that civilization and learn about what kind of creatures could have once lived here.”

Captain Pierre Jacques sniffed the air on Planet 227.  It was dry and sweet, very still in his whiskers, and chill on his bare pink skin.  None of his science officers had mentioned being cold, but then Captain Jacques was the only Sphynx cat in his crew.  Everyone else had fur under their Tri-Galactic Navy uniforms.

“It’s exhilarating!” Captain Jacques said, eliciting a polite but distracted nod from the nearest officer, a junior scientist tabby who was busy scanning the unusual red-brown rock clusters with a uni-meter. Continue reading “The Rocky Spires of Planet 227”