“The Descent of Man” published in Nature

The descent of man image

“The Descent of Man” – read here

Okay, so I’m a bit late to this party. This piece appeared in January, before this site was born. But the story is one of my favorites, so I’m going to post retroactively.

The idea for this piece came while working on a team of arborists hired to remove an enormous apple tree whose, rotted, hollow trunk had become home to a honeybee colony. While standing under that giant tree, hundreds of our furry friends humming about, my mind turned to colony collapse disorder and thought, what would it be like to live in a world without bees? And thus was born “The Descent of Man,” a tale of missing bees and apple trees, with a twist.

Recently, I was in touch with the beekeeper who helped us relocate the colony and was delighted to hear the bees are still doing well.

I almost hesitate to mention this for fear of being reviled by my fellow writers, but it’s rather interesting and illustrates how wacky this publishing business is, so to hell with it: this was the first short story I ever submitted. (Don’t hate me too much–I’ve been writing failed novels for years). I’d read Nature in college and was quite impressed with the publication, putting it atop the list of places I’d like to see my work. I whittled a much longer story down to Nature’s tight 900-word limit and sent it off as my first submission. When I received an acceptance from Colin, Futures editor at Nature, I leapt from my chair, shouted, and did a dance I’m quite thankful no one witnessed. Then I thought, well I don’t know what all the fuss is about, this short fiction business isn’t so hard!

What an idiot. Twenty-eight consecutive rejections later, I’m starting to know better.

I hope you enjoy the story. If you’re interested in the science and inspiration behind it, Nature invited me to write a guest blog, “The story behind the story.”

And if you want to get to know March better, stay tuned–he is now stoking rebellion and building an army in a full-length novel. It’s a lightning-paced adventure that explores, among other small questions, what it means to be human. When it’s time to depart, I hope you’ll share the adventure with me.



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