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”

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”

On the Eve of the Apocalypse

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Theme of Absence, March 2017

Dear Patriarchal Genetic Progenitor,

In spite of my requests that you leave me alone, I find notifications and messages from you, little traces of your electronic existence, in every aspect of the virtual world whenever I dare to tread in it.  Generally, I ignore your unwanted advances toward a relationship that I gave up long ago.  But tonight, knowing that the Elasporians will descend to Earth tomorrow, I find that the idea of reaching out to you and your myriad tiny abuses is less painful and frightening than the reality that all flesh-bodied humans will face tomorrow. Continue reading “On the Eve of the Apocalypse”

Pegacornus Rex

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, September 2014

“Mom! I made myself a birthday present!”

Marla realized that she’d left the 3-D printer running.  She’d been up late synthesizing a chef-bot she’d found the pattern for online.  Sure, she could have just baked the damn cake for Leia’s tenth birthday party herself, but the chef-bot would do a better job.  And it was programmed with the recipe for homemade hard candy — she could put that in the piñata she’d printed up. Continue reading “Pegacornus Rex”

The Spider In Her Lungs

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Abyss & Apex, October 2019

“The newly hatched spider had been nothing more than an eight-legged splotch of light on that x-ray, but Moira liked to imagine that her spider glittered like gemstones, ruby red, a living piece of jewelry hidden inside her chest.”

Moira felt a tickle in her throat. She pulled the handkerchief from her pocket and covered her mouth before coughing. It was a hacking cough that wracked her body, deep into her lungs.  She felt the slime of silk on her tongue and spit the silky strands surreptitiously into her handkerchief before tucking it back in her pocket. Continue reading “The Spider In Her Lungs”