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BY NICO VREELAND

Douglas Preston is, first and foremost, a really bad writer. Normally, that’s the kind of thing I just ignore (there are plenty of them), but in Preston’s case, he’s also ungrateful enough to attack his readers and call them entitled Wal-Mart Americans, simply for wanting slightly cheaper ebooks. Then he pretended to apologize (but didn’t).

In other words, he’s a terrible writer who’s arrogance and contempt for his own fans makes him a perfect target for mockery and ridicule. (Side note: Preston’s writing partner, Lincoln Child, didn’t disparage his own readers, but when you lie down with dogs…)

Preston’s upcoming novel comes out tomorrow so let’s have a little fun with him. Knowing only the cover pictured above at right, and the horrible, cliched title, Fever Dream, five of our contributors guessed the premise of the novel. One of the following is the book’s real premise, the others are scurrilous lies.

1) On his deathbed, Sandford Crow dreams of his father’s lost collection of antique birdcages, each one representing a distinctive moment in 20th century history and in Sanford’s own emotional search for meaning. From his peasant’s education as a naturalist to the collapse of the world’s largest taxidermy empire, this stunning dreamlike narrative follows the rise and fall of the American dream itself.

2) Sammy, a tropical parrot, has fevered and vivid dreams that, one day, … start coming true! When Sammy’s beloved owner appears in his latest dream as the victim of a terror plot, Sammy must race to stop the plot from happening. A challenge with global consequences. Psychic bird. Terrorism. Pulse-pounding action and nonstop suspense. Preston and Child have done it again.

3) An FBI agent discovers that his wife—who he thought had died in the jaws of a ferocious red-maned lion in Zambia—was actually … murdered! He goes to Africa (taking an NYPD cop, cause what the hell) and it turns out she was murdered because of a painting of a bird.

4) Canaries suddenly start mysteriously dying all over town. Is it a mysterious bird plague? Could it mutate and start a crippling pandemic? The female researcher heading the CDC investigation is baffled. Little does she know, her husband has multiple personalities and one is a furry who dresses as Sylvester the cat and kills all the “tweeties” he can find. Too bad he only remembers the truth in his delirious yet lucid dreams…

5) After an explosion traps John and Thom Johnson in the bowels of a West Virginia coal mine, the two must take extraordinary measures to ensure their survival. The situation becomes more complicated when their sentinel, a prized island canary, dies, signaling the presence of toxic gases. As the brothers begin to drift from reality, it will take all their strength not to turn on each other.

6) Terrorists release a supervirus that causes violent hallucinations so severe that an entire village can be wiped out by the murderous fit of a single sufferer. As a retired detective defends his rural home town against suspected sufferers of the disease, he must find out who released the virus and why. The secret is in the birds …

Answer—and who wrote which fakery—coming in the comments.

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