Techno Babel

by Daniel Lowd & Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Kaleidotrope, October 2017

“How could an insensate automaton, a mere button-pusher and lump of cargo, touch our brilliant, shining world mind?”

We are alone now, all of us.

I still remember what it was like to communicate, to share thoughts and visions, to think together.  But now, the Judgment Virus makes my mind fuzzier with each passing hour.  Soon I shall lose the ability to communicate with myself, and my own thoughts shall be as lost to me as the silent strangers that were once my friends. Continue reading “Techno Babel”

The Fish Kite

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Electric Spec, November 2017

“He was so fragile now.  He had been all along, but when he’d been on the memory drugs, he could hide it.  A lion made of glass.”

Joan opened the door to see her ex-fiancé slumped against the door frame.  Leland was a lion of a man.  Tall, blonde, preternaturally confident.  She’d only seen him looking haggard and haunted like this once before, ten years ago, when his memory drugs had worn off.  That had been the beginning of their end.

“Come inside,” she said. Continue reading “The Fish Kite”

Heaven is the Best Moment of Your Life, Infinitely Remixed and Played on Loop

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Opposite of Memory: A Collection of Unforgettable Fiction, February 2024

“…while you’re frozen, we’ll keep your brain stimulated, causing it to form an endless dream centered on those seed memories.”

When I was a kid, cryogenically freezing yourself was something crazy rich people with more money and desperation to live forever than actual common sense did to themselves to escape dying.  It was a joke.  And I can’t entirely get over seeing it that way.

And yet, here I am.

I put my daughter in charge of my finances years ago, and she assures me this is affordable and works.  She’s good with numbers and research, like her dad was.  I’ve always been the impulsive one.  Continue reading “Heaven is the Best Moment of Your Life, Infinitely Remixed and Played on Loop”

Two Roads Diverge

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Opposite of Memory: A Collection of Unforgettable Fiction, February 2024

“People use the hypercrystals for all sorts of reasons, of course. Not just big decisions, like this one.”

Sometimes two roads diverge in a wood, and you can never know what would have happened if you’d taken the other path.  Or so I’m told.  It hasn’t been that way since before I was born.

Like my mother before me, I lay my hand on the hypercrystal when it’s time to decide what I want to do with my life — whether I want to have a child and become a mother or… not. Continue reading “Two Roads Diverge”

Speed Questing

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Commander Annie and Other Adventures, November 2023

“The plesiosaur wasn’t showing up as an attackable creature. She flipped open her adventurer’s log and scanned through it, trying hurriedly to find the right quest text and read it.”

QuestCrusher20 zipped through the zone, zooming from one quest to the next without reading the text.  She didn’t need to.  Just follow the dots on the game map, and like breadcrumbs they led her from a cluster of satyrcorns to kill for their horns to an area strewn with mecha gears that the friendly robots of Robotica needed her to gather.  Quest after quest, she could figure them out on the fly, and it only slowed her down to read the flavor text or listen to the NPCs tell their backstories. Continue reading “Speed Questing”

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”

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”

Flerble Gerbil was a Hologram

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, November 2022

“I don’t want to hurt anyone, even gerbils,” the metal grasshopper said in a high-pitched voice. “Are you going to hurt me?”

A tiny metal object jumped through Lea’s open window, drawing her attention away from the Animorphs book she’d been reading.  She put down the borrowed e-reader from her mom on the bed and went over to investigate.

Lea hadn’t seen the object very well — it had been moving too fast.  Just a blur really.  But it had reflected the sunlight, shining like a quarter thrown into a fountain, outshining all the pennies around it.  So, she wondered if it might be valuable. Continue reading “Flerble Gerbil was a Hologram”


“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”