Too Many Jangleberries

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Lorelei Signal, January 2023

“…am I truly a human dreaming of being a bizarre alien giraffe, shopping for groceries in an asteroid belt? Or am I the giraffe, dreaming of being a human?”

Franzi swung her long, giraffe-like neck from side to side, surveying the tightly filled shelves of the grocery aisles on this asteroid shop-mart.  There were too many brands of jangleberries to pick from — she didn’t know which kind she’d like best, and somehow, the existence of so many brands made her feel like she shouldn’t have to settle for anything less than her absolute favorite type of jangleberry. Continue reading “Too Many Jangleberries”

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”

Ekko the Orca

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, May 2023

“But Ekko wasn’t an ordinary orca. She was the last of her kind, the only one left after the spaceship above had sucked up the rest of her people, stealing them away.”

Ekko felt the cool currents of water rush past her as she swam with all her might toward the ocean’s surface.  Her powerful tail pumped; her belly muscles clenched and released, over and over, as she barreled through the blue.  Then with a mighty splash, she emerged from the blue of the deep into the blue of the sky, trading a thick atmosphere for a thin one.  Rivulets and droplets of water streamed off her aerodynamic body as she soared upward, leaving the Earth and its heartbreakingly empty oceans behind. Continue reading “Ekko the Orca”

The Farther One Travels

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tri-Galactic Trek, December 2019

“Electricity sparked between the captain and the alien eel again, and this time Jacques felt sure that he had somehow shared the image from his own memory with the alien in front of him.”

The alien probe gleamed like a star, small and bright, on the Initiative’s main view screen.

“Can we get closer?” Captain Pierre Jacques asked.  The Sphynx cat’s pink ears skewed to the side, betraying his excitement.  The Initiative was in deep, unexplored space, and the presence of an artificial object of any sort implied an entire civilization that must have created it.  An entire civilization that the cats and dogs of the Tri-Galactic Navy had never encountered before.  Captain Jacques loved nothing more than first contact missions. Continue reading “The Farther One Travels”

Fact and Myth

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tri-Galactic Trek, December 2019

“You’re relying on a blob of glowing space energy to be smarter than our ship’s computers?” the captain asked, aghast. Fact had no further answer than a simple, “Yes, Captain.”

Fact was not a fox, but it was easiest for the canine and feline crew of the starship Initiative to think of zir as one.  With snowy white silicon fur and yellow eyes flecked by actual gold flakes, zhe looked uncanny enough without worrying about whether zir creator had meant zir to be a cat or a dog.

Fact’s ears were too perfectly triangular to be a dog’s; zir muzzle was too long and narrow to be a cat’s.  Zhe was an android, and zhe didn’t mind being thought of as a fox. Continue reading “Fact and Myth”


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”