A 40-Year Acid Trip, From Literary Axe-Man And Heroes Creator

A collaboration so unlikely, it could have come from alternate history: Tim Kring, creator of TV's Heroes, is teaming up with Dale Peck, the literary author and critic best known for calling Rick Moody the worst writer of his generation. Their trilogy will be an alternate history/science fiction story that starts in the 1960s and runs to the near future. And, as you might expect from Kring, it involves uncanny superpowers. The unnamed series joins a new vogue for literary alt-history.

In Kring and Peck's trilogy, a man named Chandler Forrest takes part in LSD experiments administered by the CIA in the 1960s, and gains strange abilities. Given the fact that the book spans four or five decades, you can expect it to be sort of sprawling and involve tons of intricate conspiracies. Besides trashing Rick Moody (and David Foster Wallace, and Jonathan Franzen) Peck is best known for the 1993 AIDS novel Martin and John. His most recent novel, The Garden Of Lost and Found, was about a Midwesterner who moves to New York, but you can't read it because it got withdrawn in the wake of the closure of Carroll & Graf when parent company Avalon changed hands.

Alternate history, formerly the preserve of genre authors like Harry Turtledove, has been gaining a new currency in recent years. Philip Roth's The Plot Against America explores an alternate World War II where Charles Lindbergh deposes FDR. And Resistance by Owen Sheers also explores a WWII where things went differently, in this case a version where the Nazis overrun Russia and take over half of Britain. And of course, Michael Chabon's The Yiddish Policemen's Union takes place in an Alaska that became the new Jewish homeland.

The other interesting thing about the Kring/Peck deal with Crown was how they sold the book: they only had 25 pages of material (presumably including an outline) and a video trailer that editors had to sign onto a password-protected Web site to watch. It's become common practice for authors to make video trailers for novels once they're published, but I've never heard of authors selling a book to a publisher using a video. The future of publishing? [Observer] Acid blotter art by Trevor Brown.