Exclusive! Sneak Peak at My Futuristic Satirical Novel Every Publisher Rejected


Photo by Joel Muniz on Unsplash

In 2011 I wrote a comic novel set a decade in the future. Every publisher declined. Here is a representative rejection letter:

Dear Mr. Clifford,

Thank you for submitting The Centre Cannot Hold, a book you describe as a futuristic, dystopian comic novel. This is the worst book I have ever encountered.

Satire must have some basis in reality. For example, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is reputed to be scripted and disingenuous.  Announcing her appointment of two new assistants, one for planning spontaneity and the other to advise her on authenticity, is enjoyable satire. Announcing her hire of Sasquatch as campaign manager is inconceivable and lame.

Your book is replete with persons and events that are illogical and unbelievable. They are not funny. They fall flat because they are untethered from reality.

Let me give you one example. You imagine a virulent virus sweeping through the world. A Republican administration miraculously develops an effective vaccine in record time. Instead of subsequently claiming credit, party leaders discourage vaccination and block mask mandates. This is credible? This is funny? Even in a coarse parody, no politician would act this way.

The party’s rank and file then follow this advice. They reject vaccinations and masking, and they also ridicule, insult, and threaten people who do. The reader is asked to accept that one-third of America would knowingly jeopardize their health and that of their families and neighbors to scratch some political itch.

Then you write that many of this group, after eschewing vaccinations, chose to ingest Ivermectin, a drug for intestinal worm infections in cows that is sold at livestock stores and is known to be harmful to humans. This is not comedy; this is mindless flailing. Wit should cut with a rapier. You use a bludgeon, swing it wildly, and miss every target.

In your book, The Supreme Court, controlled in 2021 by reactionary, doctrinaire Roman Catholics, refuses to block a Texas law prohibiting abortions. This law introduced an absurd expansion of who can bring a lawsuit. Bounty hunters can now sue anyone who performs, aids or intends to aid in an abortion. If they win, they can collect $10,000 for each prohibited act. Aside from gratuitously insulting Catholics, this vignette reveals your total ignorance of American jurisprudence. No federal court could enable vigilantes to enforce the current passions of a state political party without destroying our entire legal system.

In that same week, you wrote that Texas passed another law allowing carrying of handguns without a license or training. Enough is enough. You can ridicule the pro-life. You can ridicule the gun advocates. But they cannot coherently be the same people. One cannot simultaneously value and devalue human life.

You fill your book with conspiracy theories so laughable they would not find an adherent in a lunatic asylum. You write that 20 percent of the Americans believe a conspiracy of Satanic, cannibalistic pedophiles — involving the Clintons, Oprah Winfrey, Pope Francis, the Dalai Lama and the Entire Deep State — kidnap and murder young children to extract adrenochrome from their pineal glands to give to Hollywood stars to look younger.

This is not funny. This is sick beyond imagination. This is where I threw the manuscript into a wastebasket.

What imbecilic travesties did I miss by not reading beyond page 40?

  1. A despicable showman, with no government experience and no redeeming qualities — one who does not believe in the core Republican values of fiscal discipline, free trade, the global world order, our allies, and who lies 30 times a day, often just to stay in practice — and yet such a travesty wins the Republican nomination and is elected President?

After losing re-election, he falsely claims voter fraud and a stolen election. In reaction, Republican legislatures in 18 states enact voter suppression laws?

Progressives employ the slogan “Defund the police” not to characterize their opponent’s policy, but as their own campaign pledge?

I suggest you give up writing satire and stick with non-fiction


Wells Richards
Publisher, Random House

Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford
Steve Clifford, the former CEO of KING Broadcasting, has written humor for Crosscut.com and the Huffington Post. He is the author of "The CEO Pay Machine."


  1. Steve, you have outdone yourself, penning the best satire ever. I laughed hard enough to spill my coffee, but at the same time, shed a tear knowing we have sunk to such dystopian insanity.
    Thanks for putting it so well.


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