Dale Peck. Yes, that Dale Peck. Dale Peck who wrote seminal AIDS-era novel Martin & John; Dale Peck who, as a literary critic, is famous for his review of Rick Moody's Demonology that began "Rick Moody is the worst writer of his generation." The Observer's news that Peck just sold a "sci-fi/alternate-history" trilogy of books to Crown for $3 million might be the weirdest news since we heard that the author making gazillions off Why Do Men Have Nipples? was gonzo early-nineties novelist Mark Leyner.
It makes more sense when you read that Peck is collaborating with Tim Kring, creator of Heroes, on the trilogy. And we just read the thirteen-page proposal for the series, called "The Flag of Orpheus"; it's not really sci-fi at all, but a dense stew of the CIA, LSD, Timothy Leary, and Heroes, as a character named Chandler Forrest — who gets superpowers through a bizarre reaction to the LSD he's given in a CIA experiment — faces off against two ex-agents, one a villain and one a dogged pursuer of the truth. The first novel, Shift, takes place during the sixties and features the JFK assassination as a major set piece; the second, Front, is set during Watergate; and the third, Drive, takes place in the present.
The proposal's good — as vivid a setup as you'd expect from Kring, and as sharply written as you'd expect from Peck. But $3 million for a drug-fueled conspiracy trilogy that posits an alternate-history version of the JFK assassination? Reportedly, the book was sold with a video trailer that the agent hosted online; if anyone has a hookup to that video, we'd love to watch it to find out how this deal got made.