Of Starwhals and Spaceships

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, January 2018


“None of them answered Chlooie when she pinged them with her radio waves. It was like they were dead inside. Creepy.”

A metal behemoth cruised through the nebula, cool and casual, like it didn’t care about any of the frolicking younglings and their sing-song radio waves or the older starwhals jockeying for territory, rearranging the ambient dust into moats and walls.

The attitude of the metal creature — the complete nonchalance — intrigued Chlooie, and she followed it on its strangely linear course through the nebula. Continue reading “Of Starwhals and Spaceships”

The Unshelled

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Shark Week: An Ocean Anthology, June 2021


“Cmdr. Wilker peered at the creature, trying to make out a recognizable face — some part of it that he should look at while addressing it.”

Salty air tickled Commander Wilker’s long nose and whistled past his pointed ears.  The light ocean breeze ruffled the long fur of his Collie mane.  He placed a paw gently on the hull of his shuttle craft, parked on the small, sandy island in the middle of a yawning purple-blue sea.  He was waiting for his co-pilot to join him, a local to this watery world.

Though he wouldn’t mind if they were running late.  The Collie dog had seldom been anywhere as peaceful as the surface of Kallendria 7.  There was an entire, technologically advanced society on this world, but it was all beneath the waves.  Up here, he could have been standing on a completely untouched, unpopulated world.  Nothing as far as the eye could see except for rolling purple waves, deep blue sky, and the occasional silver sand island. Continue reading “The Unshelled”

Twelve Days of Snow on Crossroads Station

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, May 2021


“It was as if an angel of winter had kissed the air inside the spinning wheel space station. So cold, so beautiful, so unexpected.”

When the snow began falling inside Crossroads Space Station, all of the aliens stopped what they were doing and held very still.  The snowflakes caught on long fuzzy manes and feathered wings; they pinged lightly against hard insectile carapaces and shimmering reptilian scales.  The white flakes hung in the air, stirred by the puffs of breath from snouts and beaks.  The breaths themselves crystallized in the sudden chill.

It was as if an angel of winter had kissed the air inside the spinning wheel space station.  So cold, so beautiful, so unexpected. Continue reading “Twelve Days of Snow on Crossroads Station”

Dark Father

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Theme of Absence, June 2020


“As if in a dream, I activate my robotic arm. The false skin boils away, and with a musical hum that I had hoped to never hear, the laser coils power up.”

I didn’t cry. I didn’t flinch. I barely reacted at all.

Even the soldiers on the bridge — trained clones, grown in vats, raised to be soldiers — exclaimed in horror and shock. How could anyone order the destruction of an entire planet?

But Erith Danaya is more than a warlord to me. He is my father. Not the absent kind. He didn’t abandon me and my mother, though every day I wish he had. Continue reading “Dark Father”

The Words in Frosting

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, July 2019


“…it wasn’t her place to judge. It was her place to bake cakes and to kick sad androids out of her bakery if they didn’t shape up and start buying some cake…”

Gary was a humanoid android, programmed to experience the complete range of human emotions.  Right now, he was sad.  His broad shoulders slouched, and his head hung, framing his handsome face with his beautiful raven hair.  He had been designed to be beautiful.

Chirri wasn’t sure what to do with this sad android who’d shown up in her bakery, so she served him a piece of cake on the house.  The felinid-alien slid a gold-embossed ceramic plate in front of Gary, and the android stared disconsolately at the piece of fudgy caramel cake on it for several seconds — a very long time for an android — before saying, “I don’t eat.” Continue reading “The Words in Frosting”

Queen Doripauli and the Sproutlings

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, January 2018


“What did an amphibioid care for the political concerns of sentient flowers?”

Sloanee’s slick, sticky amphibioid fingers wrapped around one of Queen Doripauli’s slender twigs.  The queen’s sea-green fronds uncurled, caressing the richer green skin of her amphibioid lover.  Doripauli’s yellow daisy-like petals brushed ever-so-lightly against Sloanee’s face, and the froggy alien’s bulbous eyes closed blissfully.

How could Sloanee give this up?  She had loved Queen Doripauli since she’d first set eyes on the photosynthetic floral alien.  Her eyes were pink roses; her mouths were blue irises; she was a living bouquet — color and splendor and everything that was right with a universe filled with infinite diversity. Continue reading “Queen Doripauli and the Sproutlings”

Ensign Mewly

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Tri-Galactic Trek, November 2021


“Ensign Mewly used the lumo-bay programs more than any other officer. He found them useful for practicing social scenarios and simply escaping from the constant sensation of being lost in the deep, dark void…”

A cat with ghost-white fur walked into the lumo-bay, the sleeves of his Tri-Galactic Navy uniform pushed up above his elbows and a bucket of electronic tools hanging from one paw.

The blue grid lines of the lumo-projectors usually sketched out regular, hexagonal patterns on the dark lumo-bay walls when it was not in operation.  Right now, they looked more like drunk squiggles. Continue reading “Ensign Mewly”

Jetpack and Cyborg Wings

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, October 2018


“Neither of them wore spacesuits — their exoskeletons protected most of their bodies, and a thin coating of amphiphilic goo around their joints sealed the gaps up well-enough for an hour long joy-jaunt around the station’s exterior.”

Lee-a-lei and her clone-daughter Am-lei perched in the Crossroads Station recreational airlock with their long spindly legs folded.  The two lepidopterans exchanged a glance with glittering, multi-faceted eyes.  Lee-a-lei was nervous and kept flapping her mechanical wings, but her daughter looked excited.

Am-lei didn’t have wings.  She’d followed the traditions of their homeworld and had her yellow-blue-and-purple wings cut off after she metamorphosed.  So, she wore a simple zero-gee jetpack like a human or one of the canine Heffens would.  The jetpack strapped around her thorax, firmly secured.  Lee-a-lei had checked her daughter’s straps several times. Continue reading “Jetpack and Cyborg Wings”

Green Skin Deep

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in All Worlds Wayfarer, September 2020


“The two photosynthoid aliens greeted each other in their own language, sounding like a dance of bells and wind chimes.”

“We’re so much alike,” Trinth said, forming the sound of the words through her flute-like reeds.  She certainly didn’t look much like S’lisha, a reptilian alien.  Trinth looked more like a cosmic rosebush — she saw through flower-like eyes; spoke with flute-like reeds; and used grasping vines to walk and grab. Continue reading “Green Skin Deep”

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”