The Dreaming Arm

by Mary E. Lowd

A Deep Sky Anchor Original, December 2022


“The dreaming arm had doomed them all, urging them to spend energy they didn’t have to spare…”

One arm sagged.  Seven arms writhed and worked, puckering their sucker discs and pulling the joint-being they composed across the slippery rocks.  The gaspingly dry, slippery rocks.  But the sagging arm — as little as it helped with pulling, and as much as it acted like a dead weight needing to be pulled — had dreamed about crossing the rocks.  It had dreamed of wonders on the other side.  And seven other arms had listened to those dreams.  Been compelled by those dreams, drawn to explore the rocks at the top edge of the ocean. Continue reading “The Dreaming Arm”

Home Remodeling

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, March 2020


“This spaceship doesn’t want to attract attention. I can tell it’s doing its best to look like the set from a thirty-year-old sitcom… after thirty years of gathering dust.”

A spaceship crashed down at the end of my street this morning.  Its inertial dampeners and camouflage shield must still be in working order, because it looked like nothing more than a parabola of blue light followed by a puffy white clump of cumulonimbus cloud streaking down from the sky.  After the crash, the puffy cloud dissipated with the morning fog, leaving behind a boxy, non-descript, ranch-style house, painted a bland shade of tan.  The paint is even peeling.  Sure, the lot at the end of the street had been an empty field all winter long, but somehow people have a way of forgetting that. Continue reading “Home Remodeling”

Thirty Honey Feasts To Go

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Theme of Absence, July 2018


“My great-great-great-grandmother was the last queen who had the honor of awakening you,” the ship’s computer answered. It was a hybrid brain — part computer, part hive — with the reigning bee queen at its heart.

Marga held her broad paw up to the star-studded window, lining it up so a single spark of light tipped each of her blunted claws.  Her own constellation.  She wondered if any of those stars had habitable worlds circling them.  She knew none of them was New Sholara.  Not from this window.  Not from this side of the ship.

A purple-and-amber-striped worker bee buzzed down and landed on the thick brown fur of Marga’s shoulder, reminding her that life support was limited.  She left the window behind and moved from one cryonics pod to the next, starting their rejuv cycles.  Bees followed her, buzzing in the air. Continue reading “Thirty Honey Feasts To Go”

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”

Sandbeard the Pirate Otter

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published by Furvana, June 2019


“Then paw to pedal, pedal to metal, her trawler screeched silently away through the vacuum of space, crenulated seashell sailing along behind it.”

Sandbeard the pirate otter, fiercest of the fierce, fuzziest of the fuzzy, and the best bewhiskered of all sea otters, steered her stolen space-trawler into the curving gravity well of a small oceanic moon.  The lunar ocean was beautiful beneath her trawler — purple and choppy, swelling with swirling water, but toxic as a scorpionfish.  Nice to look at; useless for swimming.  But Sandbeard wasn’t here for a vacation; she was a pirate, and she was ready to pillage and plunder. Continue reading “Sandbeard the Pirate Otter”

Panda-Mensional

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Neo-Opsis, May 2015


“We’d have never even discovered that pandas have a gene allowing for quantum mechanical space jumping if we hadn’t improved their diet enough that they had the energy left over to use it.”

I point at the star map again, angrily saying, “Come on, Meijing! We only have a few hours of air left!” But the black-masked eyes blink at me impassively, profoundly uninterested in the yellow spot on the view screen under my fingertip. Continue reading “Panda-Mensional”

Lunar Cavity

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Furry Future, January 2015


“Earthquakes, tsunamis, volcanoes… massive geological instability.” The words were hard to say. He felt that each time he named one of these horrible side-effects that he might be conjuring one to crush loved ones, light years away, back on Wrombarra.

The air was too cold and the gravity too strong. But, Druthel liked the cave-like architecture. He was on the moon-world of Kong-Fuzi, a naked rock without even an atmosphere — only a few small atmo-domes, a scattering of boxy, airtight buildings, and a subterranean tunnel complex connecting them all. It circled the planet Da Vinci, capital of the Human Expansion, and it hosted the renowned and arrogantly named Wespirtech, the Western Spiral Arm Institute of Technology. Continue reading “Lunar Cavity”

Harvesting Wishes

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in The Lorelei Signal, January 2011


“The Harvester tells her genie customers that the wishes she harvests come from the overripe gold flowers gone to fluffy white seed. This, of course, is not true, but the genies love it.”

Most genies offer three. Where do they get them? The Harvester is an old woman, who wears a four-leafed clover in her locket and a garland of dandelions on her hair. The locket was a gift from a suitor, many years before, bought at the Crossroads Station bazaar. The dandelions have to be supplied fresh, daily. So, she keeps a greenhouse in the aft of her ship. The Harvester tells her genie customers that the wishes she harvests come from the overripe gold flowers gone to fluffy white seed. This, of course, is not true, but the genies love it. Continue reading “Harvesting Wishes”

The Parable of Two Queens

“It wasn’t only the Zi’rai’s attitude that bespoke aggression: her entire body was built larger, sharper, more dangerously.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Beyond Centauri, Issue #23, January 2009


The guards backed away, cautious, ready to intervene. The diplomat raised his eyebrows, hopeful. Unfortunately, the aliens didn’t stay still for long. The Zi’rai representative launched herself at the Zee’nee, and their fight broke out again. N-jointed arms flailed and mandibles snapped. The four human guards flew into the fray and laboriously re-separated the aliens. Continue reading “The Parable of Two Queens”

The Genetic Menagerie

“Brent Schweitzer first turned his eyes to Wespirtech, and away from Da Vinci’s leading art colleges, when he learned that his favorite flower, a variant of the terran ghost orchid, had been genetically engineered on his homeworld’s very own moon, at Wespirtech.”

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Sorcerous Signals, November 2012


Brent Schweitzer was born on planet Da Vinci, the foremost center of knowledge and learning in the Human Expansion from Earth. The planet was lush and green, with deep blue rivers cut into its surface like veins of gem cut into stone. Warm in the summer, brilliant with fire work colors in both spring and fall, and temperate in the winter, Da Vinci was as idyllic as any of the worlds the Human Expansion had found. As such, Da Vinci was deemed the appropriate setting for the host of art schools and other centers of academia that began to grow there as naturally as the native flowers. For, without scenery, without inspiration, how can there be art and learning? Continue reading “The Genetic Menagerie”