Apparently, the force was with him.
Barlow won first place in the internationally recognized L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest for new and aspiring writers of speculative fiction.
Along with a cash prize and an all-expense paid trip to Hollywood to hobnob with the best science fiction writers in the business, Barlow's winning story has also been published in "L. Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future-Vol. XVI."
Not bad for a guy who'd never even read science fiction before entering the contest.
"I've never really been interested in it. It's pretty new," Barlow said. "But my wife's been writing it since before we were married, and she's been entering (the Writers of the Future Contest) for awhile."
After hearing about the contest from his wife, Barlow decided he had an idea for a story. The idea evolved into a short story about a famous scientist and a friend who discuss a contraption that has appeared in the scientist's house, and whether or not this contraption is a time machine.
Unlike other stories in the genre, Barlow's story aims for a little laughter.
"My story is more humor than science fiction," he said.
This is not surprising considering Barlow's background as a humorist. He has worked as stand-up comedian and written humorous columns and essays for various publications.