A first novel that received three offers for agent David Gernert within 24 hours of submission ended up being "competitively preempted" by a former colleague at Doubleday, editor-in-chief Bill Thomas. It's called The Futurist and is the work of Manhattan ad exec James P. Othmer, who has studied under novelist E.L. Doctorow. Its protagonist is a frustrated futurist hired by a mysterious agency to travel to the world's trouble spots to find out what the world thinks of America, and who runs into his own troubles in each of them. It is, said Gernert, a "very post-9/11 novel, with a voice both hilarious and scared," offering an unusual take on our current national state of mind. After receiving his first offers last Friday, Gernert waited over the weekend for further readings, and for Thomas's offer to eclipse the others. Doubleday took U.S. rights only, and AbnerStein will be fielding other offers at the London Book Fair; there's also Hollywood interest.