Review of “Dark Father” by Mary E. Lowd


The narrator is the daughter of the warlord Erith Danaya. She, her mother, and her twin toddlers have been trying to escape him. They are functional captives on his starship as he travels from world to world.

Shortly before the action of the story, the narrator has hidden her mother and her children in a forest by a pond on one world she finds beautiful. Apparently, just as the narrator was about to escape, Erith Danaya attacked the once verdant planet and turned it into an inferno. She now looks at the gray husk and decides to take action.


The title raised a red flag. Unfortunately, nothing in the story contradicted that red flag. Ordinarily, I would cheer on a character who took the extreme action the unnamed narrator does in the story. Sadly, this time, I couldn’t.

Nearly every element of this tale derived from a well-known movie franchise. The only feature I haven’t been able to connect to the same franchise is the warlord’s name, that is, Erith Danaya. Freely associating only brings up “Earth Day” and “Tuatha Dé Danann,” neither of which have any apparent relevance.

Another difficulty I had with the story was the plotting. For the ending to occur, the narrator would have had to escape her father for some extended time in the past at least once—never mind the children, who were not dropped off by the stork—yet the narration seems to imply only brief glimpses of life from outside the warlord’s thumb.

Overall, while I liked the idea, this story didn’t work for me.


According to her blurb, author Mary E. Lowd is a prolific science-fiction and furry writer in Oregon. She’s won an Ursa Major Award, two Cóyotl Awards, and two Leo Literary Awards.  She edited FurPlanet’s ROAR anthology series for five years, and she is now the editor and founder of the furry e-zine Zooscape.  She lives in a crashed spaceship, disguised as a house and hidden behind a rose garden, with an extensive menagerie of animals, some real and some imaginary.  Learn more at or read more stories at

She has many stories in Theme of Absence and Daily Science Fiction, including one I reviewed here.

This story can be read here.

Title: “Dark Father”
Author: Mary E. Lowd
First published: Theme of Absence, June 19, 2020

Published by 9siduri

I have written book and movie reviews for the late and lamented sites Epinions and Examiner. I have book of reviews of speculative fiction from before 1900, and short works in publications such Mobius, Protea Poetry Journal, and, most recently, Wisconsin Review and Drunken Pen Writing. I'm busily working away on a book of reviews pulp science fiction stories from the 1930s-1960s. It's a lot of fun. I am the author of the short story "Always Coming Home," a chapbook of poetry titled "Sotto Voce," and a collection of reviews of pre-1900 speculative fiction, "By Firelight."

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