15 February 2001 – First draft of the human genome is published in Nature

Right off the bat, I’m going to have to regretfully turn you down. I just can’t see us publishing Human Genome in anything like its current form. Look, I Ioved the twists and turns – was actually a little dizzy by the end. But whenever you think it’s about to go somewhere, it just spirals round again. I guess it’s a little highbrow for us.

Don’t be discouraged, though. Writers write right? Please do send us any future stories for consideration.


The Editor
Amazing Tales


Thank you for your interest in our little magazine, but we will have to respectfully decline the privilege of publishing Human Genome. 

While we do not doubt of the sincerity of your artistic vision, we’re afraid that, to us, HuGen is a mess; patchy, confusing, overly complicated and lacking not just depth or any discernible literary qualities whatsoever, but even such fundamentals as plot or character. It wouldn’t be a first draft by any chance?  To be blunt, insofar as the work of ninety-nine monkeys bashing on typewriter keys while awaiting the arrival of the hundredth monkey could be called a work in progress, then – yes – HuGen betrays all the signs of being such a work in progress.

Do you even know what you are trying to achieve?

Also, the ending is junk.


Submissions Editor
The Narwhal Review


You know, when we opened your letter in the office we were all blown away. And that doesn’t happen often. I’m not making a joke about the sad sad death threats we get from rabid and sexually-unfufilled feminists either.

Hap, the managing editor and biggest pervert around – haha, he knows I’m kidding, why do you think they employed me? – was all for scrapping our centrespread “Busty Blondes in Post-Industrial Wastelands” and cancelling half the classifieds space even at the risk of losing the business of many of our long-time advertisers just to make room for your contribution. Here we said to ourselves is something our readers could really get worked up about if you know what I mean. Protein-coding genes, noncoding RNA, transposons, miscellaneous heterochomatin. Hell, it’s fifty Our Fathers and a cold shower for me after just writing that, you filth-merchant.

Haha. I’m joking of course. Couldn’t understand a word.

Readers Editor
Riveters and Welders Almanac


Wow. Just wow.

Somehow, in this remarkable work, you get right to the core of what it is to be human. This is the first thing I’ve read in a long time that has moved me so much. Big themes tackled boldly – being and becoming, the struggle to survive, chance and necessity, blood sex and death. Innovative and intricate plotting that owes a little – I think – to Eco and Calvino but manages to be hugely original all the same. Those repetitive, dreamlike sequences that lull the reader like a warm bath nursing a suicide, before a switch is thrown – bam – and you’ve got runaway terror thrills surging through your bloodstream.

I wish we could publish it, but the fact is, we’ve already accepted a rather long work by Salman Rushdie for our forthcoming issue and he’s remarkably precious about things like that.

Have you tried Nature?

Warm regards,

The New Yorker

File under: natural rejection | publishing: red in tooth and claw

(Image source: Our Progress)


Add Yours

I reckon this is the funniest piece yet. I really enjoyed reading it, espcially the rejection from the Riveters and Welders Almanac.

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