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”

Rapscallions

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”

The Rocky Spires of Planet 227

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Exploring New Places, July 2018


“Captain Jacques hoped these spires were the remnants of a long-ago civilization. He longed to search for signs of that civilization and learn about what kind of creatures could have once lived here.”

Captain Pierre Jacques sniffed the air on Planet 227.  It was dry and sweet, very still in his whiskers, and chill on his bare pink skin.  None of his science officers had mentioned being cold, but then Captain Jacques was the only Sphynx cat in his crew.  Everyone else had fur under their Tri-Galactic Navy uniforms.

“It’s exhilarating!” Captain Jacques said, eliciting a polite but distracted nod from the nearest officer, a junior scientist tabby who was busy scanning the unusual red-brown rock clusters with a uni-meter. Continue reading “The Rocky Spires of Planet 227”

Many Tiny Feet

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in New Myths, September 2017


“S’lisha sang to the arachnids in the guttural, bellowing tones of her native language — a sound that the humans onboard had compared to a giant frog dying.”

S’lisha traced her scaly claw over the transparent metal surface of the incubator.  It was the most complex cargo crate that she’d ever seen — heating and cooling coils all around the sides, a humidifier built into the base, and brackets inside to hold all of the eggs carefully in place.  It had come with detailed instructions for all the settings — cool at first, but warmer and moister over time. Continue reading “Many Tiny Feet”

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”

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”

Principles Over Profit

by Mary E. Lowd

Originally published in Daily Science Fiction, August 2017


“…only Chorif and Roscoe knew where the High Royal Quejon’s vessel had crashed… along with its cargo load of lovely, shimmering jewels.”

Chorif held out her upper wing, spreading her feathers to admire the rings and bracelets and pins she’d fastened among her pinions.  Her wing glittered with gems from the ice asteroids around Tau Ceti and glowed with Erdidaniian opals.  She looked like a queen, and she clacked her hooked beak happily.

All of the salvage crews based out of Crossroads Station had been searching for the lost High Royal Quejon’s vessel for months, but only Chorif had thought to seek out the uplifted lapine servant who’d run away from the Quejon and enlist his services. Continue reading “Principles Over Profit”

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”