Friday, May 7, 2021

Just Released: The 2021 IWSG Anthology Dark Matter: Artificial!

The 2021 Insecure Writer's Support Group anthology, Dark Matter:  Artificial
was released on Tuesday, May 4, and I can't wait for my copy to arrive!

I have read and reread the previous five anthologies,
and I had the honor of having my short story "Dare Double Dare"
published in last year's Voyagers:  The Third Ghost.

I am excited for the ten talented authors featured in Dark Matter:  Artificial,
a mix of authors from previous IWSG anthologies and others new to this series.

Being included as an author in an IWSG anthology is a wonderful opportunity.
It's like a boot camp for editing, publishing, and promoting a book,
and you have the support of the IWSG members to cheer you on.
I hope the authors have a fun ride and learn lots
under the guidance of the publisher Dancing Lemur Press, LLC.

I had a chance to ask the authors a question: 
When did you discover science fiction as a genre, 
and what compelled you to write science fiction? 
I hope you enjoy their answers and learn something about them.

If you're a SciFi fan, perhaps you'll discover some new authors and books to read. 

  Olga Godim
  Nano Pursuit 

I started reading science fiction when still at school, but those books were rare and far between. The reason: I grew up in Soviet Russia. The authorities of the state didn’t approve of speculative fiction. They wanted writers to sing hymns to the Communist Party, but science fiction writers tended to set their stories in the far future, with no mentioning of Communism. So, not many were published. And of course, fantasy wasn’t published at all, nor translated from other languages. Magic and Communism didn’t mix together well. I didn’t even know the genre existed until I immigrated to Canada.

Before my emigration, I read what science fiction was available in Russia: a couple of translated authors, like Arthur Clark and Isaac Asimov, and a few home-grown science fiction writers, but frankly, none of them made much of an impression on me. I wasn’t a devotee of the genre.

Only after I came to Canada, I discovered the wide field of speculative fiction existing in the English language, including such sci-fi giants as Lois McMaster Bujold with her Vorkosigan saga. I also loved the recent Murderbot stories by Martha Wells, but aside from that, I rarely found what I wanted in science fiction. Maybe that’s why I started writing it: to launch the stories I felt the lack of into the science fiction realm.

Mark Alpert
Vera’s Last Voyage

I've loved science fiction ever since I read Isaac Asimov's "I, Robot" when I was twelve years old. I studied astrophysics in college and became an editor at Scientific American. So when I sat down to write my first novel, it seemed perfectly natural to invent a story about a hidden Theory of Everything discovered by Albert Einstein. That book, "Final Theory," was published by Simon & Schuster in 2008 and translated into more than twenty languages. Over the next decade I wrote nine more science-fiction novels, focusing on everything from robotics ("The Six," published by Sourcebooks in 2015) to genetic engineering ("The Coming Storm," published by St. Martin's Press in 2019). It's my lifelong passion. My story in the Dark Matter anthology, "Vera's Last Voyage," is based on the life of the late Vera Rubin, the astronomer who discovered the best evidence for dark matter but never got the respect she deserved, partly because of sexism.

Deniz Bevan
One to Another

I first discovered science fiction as a child; one of my favourite books was a gift from my grandmother: The Spaceship Under the Apple Tree by Louis Slobodkin. I also used to order science fiction books at random during the Scholastic book fairs at school. Time Twister by Ged Maybury and Omni:Skyborn by Marci H. Krutchten were particular favourites. My experience of reading science fiction has been sporadic and random -- and always pleasurable!

Elizabeth Mueller

I believe I was in middle school when I first discovered that Science Fiction was a book genre, despite growing up with the original Star Trek series. 

One thing I didn't appreciate about reading SciFi was that it info-dumped with technicalities as though the author had to prove every nuance that made the story tick. I've been mulling over writing in this genre lately, and Dark Matter was my perfect opportunity for my official attempt.

Kim Mannix

My first discovery of it would have come through watching science fiction TV and movies with my parents when I was small. Though it wasn't the first science fiction book that I encountered, I remember reading John Wyndham's The Chrysalids at about age 11, and that certainly had an impact on me. It made me realize that the genre could be both imaginative and important in its impact. As for writing it myself, I tend more towards horror or dark fantasy, but once in awhile the attraction of the strange and wonderful world of science fiction creeps in. 

Stephanie Espinoza Villamor

My dad has always been very big into science fiction--two of his favorite movies are The Day the Earth Stood Still and Forbidden Planet, both of which have artificially intelligent characters in the form of "Gort" and "Robby the Robot." It was only natural that I would grow up to be a sci-fi geek, interested in robots! We've watched episodes of Lost in Space and Star Trek together, attended all kinds of conventions, and then I probably started reading science fiction around middle school. More recently I've enjoyed playing sci-fi video games too! But except for one childhood story attempt I called "Holly and the Hologram," I never felt compelled to write science fiction until now. I thought it would be too hard for me, so I stuck with mostly fantasy instead. But after the IWSG anthology prompt, I've been inspired to play more with the genre and ended up writing another sci-fi short story that will be published in a local anthology! I hope to keep experimenting as I have fun with science fiction writing!

Tara Tyler

I started my journey into sci-fi as a teen. Michael Crichton and Isaac Asimov were my faves! In fact, when I came up with my idea for POP TRAVEL, I wanted to send it to Michael Crichton, but I was sad to discover he had passed away. So I decided to write it myself and he has been a powerful influence in my sci-fi adventures.

C.D. Gallant-King
Space Folds and Broomsticks 

My earliest sci-fi influences were definitely Star Wars and ROBOTECH - a giant-robot anime from the early 1980s that was heavily re-written for North American audiences. It had everything I love about sci-fi and adventure stories in general: serialized storytelling, deep space dogfights between starfighters, romantic drama, unexpected character deaths, a small group of human survivors facing off against a massive alien armada. It's not a coincidence that ROBOTECH shares a lot of similarities with the mid-2000s reboot of Battlestar Galactica, one of my favourite modern sci-fi series. My first sci-fiction stories were me basically doing fan-fiction of Star Wars and ROBOTECH. My current stories are still me basically doing fan-fiction of Star Wars and ROBOTECH.
(I also love Arthur C. Clarke, but I'll never be able to write that well.)

Steph Wolmarans
The Utten Mission 

I have known science fiction since I can remember stories. My childhood movie memories include ET, Flight of the Navigator, Short Circuit, Batteries Not Included, and the list goes on. I fell in love with the original Dune movie because it irritated family members when they came to visit and my dad put the tape in. When I discovered in middle school that it was based on a book, my love of reading was born. That same year, I started coming up with my own story ideas. I always wanted to write about other worlds so people could find themselves lost in stories the way I was.

Charles Kowalski
Resident Alien

Science fiction has always been a part of my life. As a boy, cars, trains, even airplanes were too earthbound for me; I wanted spaceships. I grew up with Star Wars, Star Trek, and Battlestar Galactica. My favorite stories were the ones that took me out of this world, into fantastical realms or distant planets. (My nearest and dearest would probably agree that I'm still a little spacey.)

I always dreamed of writing science fiction, but it was decades before I seriously put my hand to it, partly because it took me that long to discover its real purpose: not just "fiction based on science" but "fiction AS science," a laboratory of the imagination where you can put a slice of the human experience under a microscope, add or change some element, and observe the result. In "Resident Alien," the slice of life I wanted to examine was the experience of immigrants, oppressed minorities, and formerly enslaved people, and the variable I wanted to change was: "What if we were all in the same boat? What if the struggle for freedom and equality were not a conflict of one race against another, but of the entire human race together?"

* * * * *

Dark Matter: Artificial
An Insecure Writer’s Support Group Anthology

Discover dark matter’s secrets…
What is an AI’s true role? Will bumbling siblings find their way home from deep space? Dark matter is judging us—are we worthy of existence? Would you step through a portal into another reality? Can the discoverer of dark matter uncover its secrets?
Ten authors explore dark matter, unraveling its secrets and revealing its mysterious nature. Featuring the talents of Stephanie Espinoza Villamor, C.D. Gallant-King, Tara Tyler, Mark Alpert, Olga Godim, Steph Wolmarans, Charles Kowalski, Kim Mannix, Elizabeth Mueller, and Deniz Bevan.
Hand-picked by a panel of agents, authors, and editors, these ten tales will take readers on a journey across time and space. Prepare for ignition!
Founded by author Alex J. Cavanaugh, the Insecure Writer’s Support Group offers support for writers and authors alike. It provides an online database; articles; monthly blog posting; Facebook, Twitter, & Instagram groups; #IWSGPit, and a newsletter.
Release date: May 4, 2021
Print ISBN 9781939844828 $14.95
EBook ISBN 9781939844835 $4.99
Science Fiction: Collections & Anthologies (FIC028040) / Space Exploration (FIC028130) / Genetic Engineering (FIC028110)


* * * * *

I wish Dark Matter:  Artificial lots of success!
It's so exciting to receive that first royalty check!

Till next time ~
Fundy Blue

On the Bay of Fundy
© M. Louise (MacBeath) Barbour/Fundy Blue
All Rights Reserved




  1. I can relate to most of those! Grew up with Star Trek, Star Wars, and Battlestar Galactica. (Not to mention comic books.) Olga, that is both fascinating and sad Communist Russia didn't allow fantasy or much science fiction.
    Congratulations to all of you!

    1. Hi, Alex! We didn't have tv during much of my childhood, and when we did there weren't many channels. Ditto for movies. In Grade 2 I watched "Superman" at a friend's house, and I was entranced. When I blew out my candles on my birthday cake that year, I wished Superman would swoop down, pick me up, and fly me around. I disappeared from the party, and my mother found me on the back stoop watching the sky. I was certain Superman was on the way. I was devastated when she had to explain that he wasn't coming because he wasn't real. But I was hooked on sci fi by the sad story of Superman, his parents, and the destruction of Krypton.

  2. Thank you so much for featuring the Dark Matter authors. I fell in love with sci-fi at aged 13 when I discovered Anne McCaffrey's Pern books.

    1. It was my pleasure, Diane! I think the opportunity the IWSG and Dancing Lemur Press gives members is amazing, and I am happy to feature the authors and Dark Matter: Artificial.

  3. Congratulations! Reading the bios of the other authors is interesting, especially Olga's. I knew that the Soviets kept a lid on the press, but didn't realize how they controlled even fiction. I have read Deniz's blog for years.

    1. It was fun to learn more about the authors in the anthology, Jeff. I'll have to check out Deniz's blog. Have a good one!

  4. Interesting post, Louise! Congrats to this year's Anthology writers!

    1. Thanks, Debra! I am so looking forward to reading the stories, especially since I "know" a number of the authors. It's so much fun!

  5. What a great question! I loved thinking about it, and the other answers are fantastic. I love hearing the things we have in common regarding our first experience with the genre. This has made me realize the importance of reaching those middle grade readers! Now I want to write for them.

    1. Oh yes, Steph! Speaking as a retired teacher, it's really important to introduce middle school kids to science fiction. I taught second and third grade, and I made sure I read sci fi picture books and novels to my kiddos. Often I read "City of Ember" by Jeanne Du Pran and "The White Mountains" by John Christopher aloud to them. I wanted them hooked before middle school.

  6. Sharing... This looks pretty amazing!

    1. Thanks, Jacqui! Once I read the anthology, I plan to do another post on it. It's a great publishing opportunity for IWSG members.

    2. That it is! And these are always so professionally done.

  7. i liked science fiction in my teens as i recall star trek was show which i watched for long .
    it was good to to know so many amazing and brilliant authors :) i bet this combine creation would do great !
    dark matter is something i am interested more these days dear Louise :)

    hope Terry is doing fine by the grace of Lord!
    wishing you best of luck for all you chose to do my friend!

    1. Hi, Baili. Yes, Terry continues to improve. This was a bit of a rough week as the cardio team adjusted Terry's meds ~ Scary at times, but the meds are working better. Every extra day with him is a gift. Hugs and love to you!

  8. I envy all of you, people of the Democratic West, who grew up with science fiction. I first saw Star Wars and Star Trek after I moved to Canada, already an adult, with my kids watching beside me. I was swept off my feet then, and I still love those old films now.

    1. I hope you're reading lots of sci fi now, Olga, to make up for lost time. I remember when Star Trek and Star Wars came out. When I was in university there was a small black and white tv in a reception area in our girls' residence. Dozens of girls would crowd in every week to watch Star Trek without fail. When the first Star Wars movie came out, we thought the special effects were jaw dropping, starting with the slanted "In a galaxy far, far away..." I still love both, and Han Solo remains my idea of a sexy hero. Wishing you lots of luck with Dark Matter: ArtificiaL, Olga!

  9. Another new book, the 10 authors must be so elated at being chosen. Terry, hang in there, I have my tablets re-arranged every so often, the side effects are not nice, extreme tiredness, grumpy without any explanation, and thinning hair!! Not to mention bleeding if I so much as get a TINY scratch. They all work out in the end, and if it keeps us with those feet on the floor, guess we need to go along with them all. I am up to 8 in the morning now, and think one more will be added in 2 weeks!!! Pills and yoghurt, a good combination.XXXXX

    1. Terry appreciates the commiseration, Jean. Things were scary early in the week (high BP), but the pill regimen is improving. I think we are definitely clear of winter. We put on the air con today ~ only because we had a cleaning team in to deep clean our house. While Terry and I don't mind doing without air conditioning, they had to do physical work and it was hot. I can't tell you how excited I was to have a deep clean done. Mario and Araceli worked hard and nonstop for four hours. With all that's happened in the past year, I just couldn't get after things like the door slider tracks, baseboards, and high light fixtures. A few minutes ago I went into the master bedroom closet where there is a big, pull down florescent light fixture. I turned the light on and the three damn dead bugs inside it were gone, and the fixture gleamed. I was surprised because I hadn't expected them to go into the closet. I practically cried because I was so happy. It takes a ladder to get up to the darn thing, and it's a good meter long. Terry said, "What bugs?" LOL. They did a spectacular job, and I am thrilled. Wishing you and Hugh a happy, healthy, and relaxing weekend! XOXOX

  10. Very good answers! Thanks for hosting us, Fundy Blue!

    1. It was my pleasure, Elizabeth! Wishing you lots of success with your book! Take care!

  11. Oh the memories! I enjoyed reminiscing with these author beginnings.
    Thanks for giving us a shout and hosting us!
    Tara Tyler Talks

  12. So fun to hear everyone's backstories! Thank you for hosting us :-)

  13. Great question and answers indeed. I recall a lot of movies and inspirations too that were mentioned. Haven't watched Flight of the Navigator in years.

  14. Great question, and great answers! Fun to see the range of experiences with SF.


Thank you for your comments! I appreciate them very much.