I’ve always wanted to go to Greenland.

I’ve always wanted to go to Greenland. Maybe it is because of how I enjoyed my short time in Canada’s Arctic years ago. Maybe it’s because of Greenland’s renowned rock formations, or the fact that giant islands fascinate me. Or maybe it is because I am intrigued by map projections and no place in the world is more distorted on a flat map. It could be something that simple, I think.

See beautiful photos of the northern lights here

Whatever the reason, there was no doubt that one of my books would involve Greenland. Luckily I live in a time where I can watch endless video clips and pursue countless photos online while reading accounts of those lucky enough to there go in person. It’s not the same, of course, but you take what you can get. I spent a good bit of time at greenland.com/en/about-greenland planning imaginary vacations to the far north, so when it came time to choose links for the novel, I was happy to give my readers this nudge to visit Greenland’s tourist website.

“So you want me to drop this idea of taking out our clients most influential direct reports?”

“Not at all,” Eoin chuckled. “Up to now I’ve been content to let my client’s private business stay private, but I have to admit that your curiosity is starting to rub off. I want you to plan a vacation to Nuuk. It’s a town of sixteen-thousand, for heaven’s sake, so you ought to be able to find out where in Nuuk Mikkel keeps his people. Don’t be too obvious. Go see the northern lights and ride a dog sled before winter ends. You need to get more acquainted with the north anyway.”

Then, as she looked at him puzzled, he added. “You’ve got a nice direct way about you. You’re not threatening. Go meet the lady that runs the answering service. I bet you can come back from Nuuk knowing more about Mikkel Nygaard than anyone here does now, and I promise that I won’t ask questions about your expense account next month.”

As Eoin turned and left, Ronan gave a little whistle. “Wow. No questions about your expense account for a whole month?”

Fergus added. “I’ve always wanted to go to Greenland.”

“It’s February,” Ariel muttered back. “I bet you wanted to go in July.”

HFT: not inherently evil

Bill Conerly at Forbes explains HFT
Bill Conerly at Forbes explains HFT

High frequency trading plays a large role in d4, as those who can see the future find that this subset of playing the stock market is ripe for providing them with an advantage over their less clairvoyant competitors. In real life, HFT (or high frequency trading) is not inherently bad or even unfair, as long as the rules behind it are equitable and of course as long as no traders really do see the future. This article from Forbes by Bill Conerly gives one of the simplest explanations I found on how HFT really works. Read below to see how d4’s hero Ariel explains it.

Chapter 5.

“That doesn’t make sense.” Nell was thinking while she walked. “If what you’re saying is true, then it takes a whole hundredth of a second just for information to go from Dublin to New York, because that’s about three thousand miles. Cillian ought to be losing every time he places an order just because he lives so far away. “

“That’s right.” Ariel was happy to discover that this woman could not only follow along but she could do simple division in her head while she did it. “But Cillian isn’t making the decisions. The other thing we do for Cillian is we design software to think for him. In fact, our programs take in data, analyze it, and issue buy and sell orders based on Cillian’s criteria, but far faster than he or any other human ever could. It, the machine with our software, lives right on Wall Street and right next to the London Stock Exchange. You’re exactly right, Nell. Milliseconds do matter and we make Cillian faster every single way that we can. He still won’t always come out on top in a trade, but he will more often than not, which is what investing is all about.”

“Oh,” Nell said it like she was surprised to find the mumbo-jumbo was quite so simple. “So what happens when everybody starts using your fancy high frequency techniques and they are all super fast? Then who wins?”

A slow sunrise in Reykjavik

I love to read and to research, and all my novels have begun by my devouring fact and fiction on subject matters that interest me. I am grateful for the internet sources that helped me write d4. My research included far more sites than would be practical to link to in a novel so I chose a couple dozen that I thought would most enhance the reader’s experience. The first of the links I chose is given below along with enough of an excerpt from the book d4 to provide context. I hope you find this as beautiful as I did.

See a slow sunrise in Reykjavik at panoramio.com/photo/61495573.

Photo by Clavius_Rork
Photo by Clavius_Rork

Chapter 4.

Baldur Hákonarson was the first of the clients to make time to meet Ariel, his new personal support engineer from Ullow. At least Ariel assumed that he had made time, because his executive assistant had sent Eoin a calendar invite for Ariel to present an update to his board of directors a week after she started. Eoin accepted and cc’d Ariel. So that was how this was going to work.

The company bought her a ticket to Reykjavik, and Eoin showed her where to find the last presentation that had been given, and suggested she start editing it immediately. He needed time to review and approve it before she left. Ariel poked around the specs in the contract and made a few cursory visits to the tech people before she began to carefully craft her message of progress. It was lucky that delivering technical content in an understandable format was something she did well.

A week later she arrived in Reykjavik at 10 a.m. to a night sky adorned with a faint glimmer of dull grey light in the south. She was met by a limo driver, and by 11 a.m. she was setting up her presentation in front of three very well dressed older businessmen and one older woman in a suit that showed her to be of equal stature. The small boardroom was on the top floor of an extremely modern office building, and a beautiful, slow, low-angle sunrise was now erupting through the glass windows off to the south.

d4 makes its debut

d4 kindle resizeMy latest novel, d4, tells the story of a clairvoyant young woman who finds her visions of the future to be a nuisance, until she discovers that she is hardly unique. An entire group of seers has learned how to make massive profits from their knowledge and another group is obsessed with using their talents to understand a dark future they cannot ignore. They both seem a little crazy. Worse yet, each group is becoming convinced that she is the one thing that they must have in order to fully succeed.

As of January 2015, d4 is available on kindle in the US, UK, and Canada and as well as several other Amazon sites. It will be available in paperback soon, and through various other popular online sites.

If you are interested in reviewing the book, please contact me at ariel.zeitman@gmail.com.