Crystal and Rainbow

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in New Myths, December 2019

“Your colors are escaping your glittering crystal exoskeleton too. Because you’re afraid too.”

I am a cracked crystal vase holding a rainbow cloud.  The colors leak out through the cracks. The crystal is too rigid; it can’t contain them. The colors are too strong, too big. Too bold. And the crystal is precise. It desperately wants — no, needs — to be precise. But the colors have no patience.  They can’t wait for precision. They happen. Whether the crystal is ready to contain them or not. Continue reading “Crystal and Rainbow”

The Empty Empire

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, December 2016

“I was good at building worlds now — I could churn them out, one every several years. So, I kept building…”

It took a hundred years to design and build the first planet.  Multi-dimensional bulldozers and hyper-spatial cranes arranged the mountains, the icy spires, the cozy sea-green valleys in-between.  Everything was perfect; ready for a feathered avian species to take roost in the frozen castle-like heights or maybe a variety of vine-swinging primates to set up their homes in the valleys.  But no one came. Continue reading “The Empty Empire”

Summer Strawberries

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Voice of Dog, April 2020


The golden sunlight flowed outward like dripping honey, extruding itself into the glowing form of a snarling bear.” (Art by Lane Lowd)

Jenna slammed shut the refrigerator door and kicked it.  The strawberries were gone.  Mom knew Jenna was saving them but must have eaten them herself or fed them to the baby anyway.  Jenna was so mad she could scream.

She stomped into the computer room where Mom was working at the computer with Baby Riley asleep on her lap.  Mom shushed her and whispered, “You need to be quieter.  Riley’s sleeping.” Continue reading “Summer Strawberries”

Courtship FTL

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November/December 2020

“These are high-quality, classy, very smart ships. They don’t want captains who are going to be useless freeloaders.”

Addie stepped onto the fanciest spaceship she’d ever seen and thrilled at the idea that she might soon own it.  The twinkling lights, the shining displays, the dashboards of brightly colored buttons — all hers!  She’d been saving credits for years and finally had enough to buy a fully AI-equipped, FTL-drive starhopper. Continue reading “Courtship FTL”

I Am Mazillion

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in All Worlds Wayfarer, March 2020

“I didn’t want the mammals to know about me, so I kept my bodies huddled close, balled up together, wings held still, no buzzing.”

One of my scouts flies through the space station’s ductwork.  Another flies out among the aliens who are crowding through the dock and maneuvers above them, looking down, seeing where I am, what this space station is like.  Most of me clusters in a high corner out of sight, near the airlock I’ve painstakingly flown through, one body at a time, unnoticed, tiny, unimportant.  The spaceship I arrived on doesn’t know it had a stowaway, let alone a thousand, bound together telepathically.  A thousand tiny bodies, each many-legged with shimmering pairs of wings.  One mind.  I am Mazillion, and I am the first of my species in space. Continue reading “I Am Mazillion”

A Sense of Clarity

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Chrysalis: A Fairy Tale Anthology, February 2020


“…the love story he told of an amphibioid and a photosynthetic floral alien was the stuff of fairy tales.”

He was the kind of guy who would give a fake name.  Clarity could tell by the way he tentatively tried sitting at three different tables before settling down on a seat at the bar; also, the way his bulgy, protuberant eyes kept glancing around nervously; and, finally, the way he glared piercingly at his mottled green, slumped reflection in the mirror behind the bar before answering her question.

“So, what’s your name?” she asked. Continue reading “A Sense of Clarity”

Treasure in the Sky

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, December 2020

“Then he backed away from the yawning window, as if it were a portal that he could fall through and never land, floating forever, lost in the void of space.”

The short, stout, furry alien stared out the starship’s curving bridge window at the star-studded black sky.  His black fur blended into the sky like a shadow, but the blaze of white over his forehead stood out like a brand.  His rounded ears splayed, and he curled his heavy claws into fists.  “I don’t belong here,” he muttered, and the ship’s computer translated it.  “None of my people do.” Continue reading “Treasure in the Sky”

Somewhere Over the Ocean

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Boldly Going Forward, March 2020


“The hatchway of the spaceship opened, and three aliens emerged, each of them wearing a breathing mask over their face.”

A’loo’loo swam eagerly back and forth, impatient for the spaceship above her, floating on the ocean’s surface, to open its hatchway.  There had been so little warning — A’loo’loo had only discovered the burst of radio waves coming from her planet’s orbit three tides ago.  Everything had changed since then. Continue reading “Somewhere Over the Ocean”

The Night Janitor and Alien Oceans

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Typewriter Emergencies, June 2018


“Rerin’s rounded ears flattened, and she looked out the window at those oceans again. Was there someone down there?”

Rerin jostled the control panel while rubbing it down with a rag.  The racoon-like alien didn’t know how the day-crew got the bridge controls so sticky.  They were supposed to be searching the oceans on this world for signs of sentience — not snacking and boozing on Eridanii brandy.  Rerin had expected janitorial detail on a starship full of human and s’rellick scientists to be an easy job.  Instead, the naked-skinned primates partied all day, and the s’rellick shed scales everywhere — not to mention the extra work involved in tending to their live food.  Ugh.  Terrarium after terrarium filled with scuttling insects and rodents.  Rerin would not be signing on with this ship again. Continue reading “The Night Janitor and Alien Oceans”

Am I Furry? — Fandom vs. Genre

by Mary E. Lowd

“Outside of a dog, a book is man’s best friend. Inside of a dog it’s too dark to read.” — Groucho Marx

 “I refuse to join any club that would have me as a member.” — Groucho Marx

“You shouldn’t need a membership card to write or enjoy furry fiction. All you need is a story about anthropomorphic animals, and there are more of those coming out all the time.”

There’s a question that floats around the furry writing community occasionally:  how do you define furry fiction?  At first glance, this question seems similar to the age-old, what’s the difference between sci-fi and fantasy?  A nit-picky question about the borders of a genre that can be endlessly debated.  Hours can be lost to arguing over whether Star Wars is sci-fi because of spaceships, or fantasy because of the Force.  I would expect arguments about furry fiction to fall along similar lines.  For instance, does Robert T. Bakker’s Raptor Red anthropomorphize the raptors enough to count as furry?  Or is it simply a piece of speculative naturalism? Continue reading “Am I Furry? — Fandom vs. Genre”