Every so often one finds a song that they really like the first time they hear it, and they still like it dozens if not hundreds of times later. I’ve got a few of those, and La Roux’s “Bulletproof” is one. So when I was assembling my largely-female-indie-artist playlist for d4, I was delighted when my music expert recommended it.

Why so much love for this song? It’s always hard to say why you like something. I’m a “words” person when it comes to music, and the lyrics are just so clever. You’ve met this guy. You know this lady. You’ve seen the dynamics. But it’s more than that. The very concept of being bulletproof appeals to something deep within. It doesn’t just mean being immune to his manipulations. It also means not being afraid of icy ski slopes or catty store clerks or traveling alone. The lyrics speak to me about being stronger; for the next presentation at work, for the next nasty book review, for the next thing that strikes fear into me whatever it is.

Yet it is more than the lyrics. The infectious beat and sing along melody is part of what make it all work for me. I found this video from a live performance at the Isle Of Wight Festival in 2010 and it captures every bit of that. I can hardly keep from waving my arms along with the crowd while I watch.

No, I can’t explain why I like this song so much. But I hope you enjoy it too, as well as the short excerpt from d4 showing how I mentioned the song in my book.

She decided to take Friday off work, and Eoin did not object.

“Any special plans?” he asked.

“No. Just preparing,” she said. He didn’t ask for more.

The day turned out to be one of those unusual winter days when the sky is bright blue and the temperature climbs into the sixties. Ariel smiled at her good fortune as she took the little car the company leased for her and headed north out of Dublin, planning to drive for as long as it sounded good, and then to stop and do yoga somewhere along the shore.

Ireland doesn’t have much in the way of sandy beaches. Much of the coast is ancient granite and volcanic remains, and much of its rocky core is old limestone, formed from the remains of tiny sea creatures that led happy lives nearly half a billion years ago, back when Ireland was located near the equator and no mammal had yet set foot on the Earth. Ariel reached for her music, and spent a minute picking her song. She decided on “Bulletproof” by La Roux; it was the perfect choice.

 She drove far enough to find a rocky bit of shore that was deserted, spread out her mat, and worked on clearing her mind. The poses came to her in a random sequence, without thought. The table. The cat. The bow. The plough.

Her goal was to calm down, and gather her strength. To make herself as bulletproof as possible.

Downward dog into a cobra into a sun salute and repeat it again. Warrior poses. Low warrior. Warrior two. Warrior three. She had skills, she had advantages, and she had back-up. She finished her routine concentrating on balance, holding a strong tree pose while she gazed at the far horizon.

She was ready. Now, she needed to go do what needed to be done.

You can also listen to or buy La Roux’s “Bulletproof” at Amazon.

Words we need

You’ve noticed a lot of things we don’t have a word for. And, if you play word games like I do, you’ve also noticed a lot of reasonable letter combinations that don’t make a word. I mean, I get that wiqxm isn’t going to be in the dictionary. But what about lete? or dife? These would make excellent words. Why isn’t anyone working to pair these two needs together?

27-Courage-22Well, it turns out that there are people who are.  Recently I joined a group of speculative fiction writers who meet weekly to bounce ideas off of each other. I shared with them how when I wrote d4 I really needed a word to describe a memory of the future. I tried out “premory” and the more I used it the better it worked for me. In the end, premory and premories made it into my book 64 times and the story read the better for it.

Sharing with other writers in my genre has been wonderful in many ways, and one of them was discovering that night that every single one of the other writers in the group had done the same thing. Sometimes you just have to make up a word. I’m told by one of our more literary members that Shakespeare did this all the time, and we use some of his creations to this day. (Dishearten. Eventful. Eyeball. Seriously, eyeball.)

Well, new words have to be created somehow.

On the flip side, there are a ridiculous amount of words that most of us do not know. I stumbled on a wonderful blog post the other day called “Emotions We Feel but Can’t Explain” on a blog called The Girl who Feared Oblivion. It’s a fine blog and a fun article and it introduced me to JAOUSKA (a hypothetical conversation that you compulsively play out in your head), RUBATOSIS (the unsettling awareness of your own heartbeat) and any writer’s favorite, FINIFUGAL (wanting to prolong the final moments of a story).

Yes, I aspire to have my readers experience finifugal as they near the end of my books, and then to have them engage in a little jaouska as the hold conversations with my characters.

And yes, I aspire to create the words lete and dife in my next novel, or at the very least ot and le. There is no questions that ot and le both need to become English words, and the sooner the better.


Support d4 and win free stuff

spring flingEvery once in awhile I get into an advertising sort of mood and sign up to promote one of my books. This time I found a good one.

The folks over at The Kindle Book Review  are holding a giveaway with a chance for you to win a Kindle Fire 6″ HD, a Kid’s Kindle Bundle, a 1-Year Amazon Prime, or $100 in Amazon gift cards.

Anyone can enter, but if you follow me (or any of the other authors) on Face Book or twitter your odds of winning go up. That is so easy to do. If you purchase any one of the sponsoring novels, they go WAY up.

Hint — d4 is just 99 cents and you can buy it so easily by just clicking on its cover once you go to the Spring Fling website.

“How do I get to this site” you may be asking? It is easy. Click here.

The giveaway ends April 30.

Coincidence? I think not.

“I don’t believe in coincidence.” Hard-boiled detectives say it, new age psychics say it, and conspiracy fans whisper it while glancing behind them. My own philosophy tends towards the interconnections of things, so I echo the thought too. No where in my life is the strange interrelationship of information more apparent than when I do research for my books.

coincidenceEach of my novels has been boosted by my own discovery of one or more connections that I found amazing. Southerners really fled to Belize after the civil war hoping to form a new confederacy? And I’m in the middle of a novel about the civil war and modern Belize? Wow. The nation of Kiribati once straddled the international date line? There actually are only two roads into Bhutan?

My crazy excitement as I discover facts that aid and abet my convoluted plots has become a familiar high now, and it remains one of the reasons I continue to write. I’m finally back to creating the sixth and final novel in my 46. Ascending collection and the plot thickens as my research goes on. Some connections will become central to the story, others will be trimmed down to a mere mention or less. But the discovery of them all leaves me high.

Equally delightful is finding connections between the stories in my books., because the collection always was meant to be about the surprising and even beautiful way that parts of life intertwine.  I dealt with one such example today.

spirit science 3I always run the names of my characters through a search engine. When I was writing y1 and I wanted my Kiribati-born fire-knife dancer to chose to call himself Afi, the Samoan word for fire, I checked it. Most references were to a San Francisco based musical group called AFI, short for “A Fire Inside”. Wonderful, I thought.  Maybe I can refer to their music in this book. So I listened to it.  It was haunting, filled with songs about cold and grey and winter and death. I liked it, I even liked some of it a lot.  But I didn’t think I had ever heard music less suited for a story about fire dancing in the South Pacific. So I put it aside.

Three years later I was writing d4, the story of a clairvoyant young woman facing life-altering challenges in Iceland and Greenland. As I searched for music to evoke the cold bleakness of her situation, AFI came to mind and their song “Love Like Winter” nestled its way onto her MP3 player. Here is a short excerpt from the scene.

(From Chapter 23) She fretted and dozed at the Reykjavik airport for more than five hours before her small plane finally took off into a cloud-filled night, with pockets of slightly warmer air causing it to bounce around mercilessly. Ariel turned on her trusty music, only to find herself listening to the old indie song “Love like Winter” by the San Francisco group AFI. It was good music, but it made her shiver in her seat as she held on tight to her armrest. She forced herself to search for a happy future premory, anything that would assure her that she would be alive in a week or two and need not worry.

Some of the far fringes returned nothing but blackness, and Ariel realized with a sinking feeling that those were futures in which she had ceased to exist. Very faint, unlikely, but planes did go down in the icy waters of the North Atlantic, and if you considered everything, then that future without her was there.

Once I referred to the song “Love Like Winter” in the book, I had to find the best video link.  I was so happy to discover this one of a live performance at Lollapalooza Brasil in June of 2014.  I love the passion of the band, and the passion of the crowd as well. I watched this video quite a few times, in fact, and liked it better each time. I now have to say, I think that “A Fire Inside” is the perfect name for these musicians.

You can buy AFI’sLove like Winter” at Amazon.


Prepare for the worst?

I’ve always been a believer in “hope for the best and prepare for the worst.” I suspect that is why my monkey mind is staging a quiet revolt today in my yoga class.

The instructor says “be totally present in the now.” This is a common prompt for anything involving meditation, but the problem starts when he takes it one step further and asks us to reflect on what keeps us from doing so.

dream“I know, I know” the eager student in my head clamors.  She likes getting answers right. “I replay scenes from the past, and I concentrate on tasks and I worry about the future.” But another voice in my head speaks up, and it is less anxious to please.

“You don’t just worry,” it says. “You prepare. You plan ahead. Those fantasy scenes you love to invent allow you to try on various scenarios and practice problem solving before it is crucial to your survival.”

“You mean I’m not a day dreamer and chronic worrier?”

“You probably are that too,” my monkey mind concedes.  It tends not to sugar coat things for me. “But if you never let yourself live in the future, you wouldn’t make plans. You’d pay a ton more for airfare, and find every Bed and Breakfast you ever want to stay in is sold out. Admit it, you do more if you plan, and you do it better.” Monkey mind is convincing and I’m thinking maybe this yoga instructor has it all wrong and I should be living more in the future, not less.

evolver 1“So you’re going to turn into one of those crazy survivalists who waste their life and resources stockpiling a cellar to live in in case the word falls apart?” I appear to have grown a second monkey mind, and this one is having none of this focus-on-the-future argument.

“You can prepare without paranoia,” the first monkey shoots back.

“You can plan ahead while still being in the here and now,” the second one retorts.

“You can have this discussion later,” my inner self says firmly. Both monkeys disappear, along with the dreams and worries that matter so much to them. I breath slowly. For just this moment, tomorrow will take care of itself.

My character Ariel has a special relationship with the future, having an innate ability to see the most probable outcomes in front of her. It doesn’t stop her from worrying either, as this excerpt from d4 shows.

“I am glad I met you,” he said. With that he turned and left the little conference room quickly, like he needed to use the restroom badly or had just remembered an important call he had to make. Ariel watched him go in silence, as the remaining board members left still talking among themselves, oblivious to the bit of drama that had just occurred.

There was no question that Baldur had just set off the most unusual premories that Ariel had ever experienced. Ariel considered whether it was because the man would somehow play an important role in her life. Was it possible that he too had her curse? On the other hand, she had been so shook that she might have imagined his response to her. Finding another person with precognitions like her own was incredibly unlikely. Ariel had decided long ago that what she could do had to be very rare, or the world would be so different.

So she needed to get a grip, and do her job and stop worrying about this future stuff. She needed to become far more familiar with exactly what Baldur’s professional needs were and do her best to see that her firm met them. She thought that it would also be a good idea to find a way to avoid touching him ever again.

(As for what my monkey mind had to say about focusing on the past — see my post Bring back the good old days? on my z2 blog. For thoughts about my never ending focus on performing tasks — see my post Frittering life away? on my c3 blog. And find out what my yoga instructor thought the problem was at Are you performing, or performing? on my y1 blog.)

d4: synopsis and my 3 favorite excerpts

I’m talking a close look at all of my blogs, making sure that they are up to date and that they represent my novels well. I’ve placed a few of my favorite excerpts from d4 on a page for permanent reference, and thought I would use them as a blog post as well. Enjoy!

d4 is the fifth novel in the collection 46. Ascending, which will ultimately consist of six loosely interrelated tales about five very different family members who each discover that they can do the extraordinary when circumstances require it. The stories are designed to be read in any order as they overlap in time and build upon each other in all directions.

This page contains a short description of the book d4 followed by three of my favorite excerpts from the first part of the novel. To read more, please purchase d4 at smashwords.com, at amazon.com, or at Barnes and Noble.

Book Description:
A clairvoyant young woman finds her visions of the future to be a nuisance, Ariel altuntil she discovers that she is hardly unique. An entire group of seers has learned how to profit from their knowledge in ways that Ariel has never considered. Another group is obsessed with using their talents to understand a dark future they cannot ignore.
An alliance with either crowd looks dangerous, given that they both seem a little crazy. There is no possible way to help them both. Worse yet, each group is convinced that Ariel is more than a potential asset; she’s the one thing that they must have in order to succeed.

Excerpt 1:
“You want me to move out of London? But I’ve only been here six months!” Ariel could hear the shrillness in her own voice, and she understood that it was not warranted. The company was well within its rights to ask her to transfer if she wanted this promotion and new assignment. It was just that it was such a surprise, and Ariel didn’t deal well with surprises. They almost never happened.

Yet if she had been paying attention she probably should have seen this one coming. The employees who had come back to work on the days between Christmas and New Years had all been talking about Gloria, a support engineer at the end of the hall whom Ariel had met at a few social events. Clyde Johnson, well known around the office as Gloria’s asshole boyfriend, had surprised everyone, including himself, by proposing to Gloria on Christmas Day.

Everyone knew that Gloria had already accepted a transfer to the Ireland office and guessed that Clyde’s strong dislike of both romance and commitment had been just barely overcome by his strong dislike of the idea of not getting to have sex nearly as often, with his main squeeze located on another island. Gloria had of course decided that she now needed to remain in London to plan the most wonderful wedding ever. Just yesterday she had rescinded her agreement to transfer to Dublin right after the first of the year.

That meant that the company needed someone else to go to Dublin immediately, and almost nobody wanted to go. The Ireland office was mostly about writing code because Ireland’s lower costs enabled Ullow to hire more young programmers while keeping the expenses down. It was something of a nuisance that a few clients insisted on being handled out of the Dublin office, and rumor had it than none of these were clients that would enhance a young engineer’s career.

In fact, Ariel had always picked up a sort of wink associated with these particular customers as well as a “you know, the Irish” tone whenever any of her bosses spoke about the Dublin office. What was it, exactly? Not condescending so much as it was a sort of unspoken understanding that the Irish would find ways to bend rules where the British would not. She got the impression that work that might raise an eyebrow in London was sometimes diverted to Dublin, where eyebrows were by custom less questioning.

Ariel had no objection to Ireland—she knew it had its charms. Unfortunately, she’d heard that the Ullow office was located in the greyest, bleakest part of town, far from anything charming. All of the company’s glamorous wining and dining was done out of the corporate headquarters in London, where the office itself was considerably nicer, the perks were greater and the chance to impress management was much higher. A transfer to Dublin was career limiting and everyone knew it. Only someone with little ambition, like Gloria, would volunteer to go there.

Ariel understood how she made the quickly assembled short list of those being considered to go instead. She was already thought to be bright enough to learn whatever she needed to know and yet, as a new hire being offered a promotion, she would have to go with little complaint. She fought to make her voice more pleasant as she reached for the manila folder that the HR man had been trying to hand her. She gave the man a weak smile as she took out the contents.

She must have touched something once handled by Gloria, because with the touch came the premory that there was a fifty-fifty chance that Clyde wouldn’t even go through with the wedding. With that came the knowledge that whether he and Gloria got married did not matter much at all, eventually not even to Gloria. What mattered was that one Ariel Zeitman, who until today had nothing particularly spectacular in her likely future, was now unexpectedly going to Ireland where she would almost certainly meet people and learn things that would change her forever.

Ariel picked up papers that held the transfer information, and ran her hands over them, willing any information to come to her.

“I’d like to think about it for a day.” She said it as calmly as she could manage.

“We’d like to get the paperwork started before the end of the year,” the man from HR said. “Tomorrow is New Year’s Eve, so you have your day. Barely, because we need to know by noon since we are going to close the office early.”

“Sure,” Ariel nodded. “Let me just take this information home with me and I’ll give you my answer first thing in the morning.”

As she stepped outside for some air, she had a pretty good idea of what her answer would be. The nice man from HR hadn’t noticed how firmly she had placed her hand against the wall after handling his manila folder, and he had no way of knowing that it was to steady herself against the kaleidoscope of new visions that came rushing at her while a tiny percent probability of a transfer turned into an almost certainty.

“Holy crap.” Ariel muttered it softly again and again as she made her way out of the building, her eyes half closed as she tried to calm her mind. “Holy crap.” She sat down on the cold concrete steps to steady herself. “Holy crap.” She couldn’t quit saying it.

What Clyde didn’t know, couldn’t know, would never know, was that in making his proposal he might have changed the fate of the human race. Ariel saw herself months from now, learning that thanks to Clyde Johnson’s sex drive, she was somehow being given a chance to play a role in the very survival of the humanity.

There was so much confusion in the premory. She couldn’t see how, she couldn’t see when and as the flashes of little specks of her most distant visions whirled their way through her brain, all she got with any clarity at all was that this decision mattered. A lot.

Yes, she thought she’d accept the transfer.

Excerpt 2:
“Slumming today?” Jake asked. He was one of the senior coders in the group, and loosely considered the coordinator for all work being done on Baldur’s project. He was one of those tall, chubby men with curly hair and a gentle way about him that made the comparison to a teddy bear inevitable. Ariel had already established a friendly working relationship with him, even though he had pointed out more than once that Ariel spent too little time with the programmers.

“Just wondering if you guys will ever actually finish what you’re working on,” Ariel teased him back. Frankly she would like to ask him many more questions about his work, but Eoin had continued to discourage their interaction in myriad little ways.

“Of course we won’t,” Jake answered cheerfully. “Will Microsoft ever stop releasing frustrating new versions of Word? Will Google stop reinventing itself? This programming gig is long-term job security, baby. Better than building roads because you never run out of a place to put new software. You just buy a bigger computer.”

Ariel gave him an appreciative smile back. She liked Jake for his sense of humor and for the fact that he seemed impervious to office politics.

“Do you have a little time to tell me more about the current direction of Baldur’s latest requests for modifications?” Ariel asked. As she did so, she reached out in what she hoped was a friendly, sisterly way and touched Jake’s arm. “Because I really am trying to be of some use here, both to our company and to our mutual customer.”

Jake nodded, apparently impressed by Ariel’s sincerity.

“Okay. I’ll let the front office people in on some of the secrets.” He winked. “As you know, Baldur is mostly concerned with better tools for making quicker changes to his own parameters. Seriously, one minute he wants the defaults to go one way and two minutes later he wants to be able to change them to do something else, at least under certain conditions and then three minutes later he wants it all to go back to the way that it originally was. It sounds insane, because no one, I mean no one, has worthwhile new information on anything related to stocks that changes that rapidly.”

“So why is he bothering with these requests?”

Jake gestured for Ariel to have a seat in his office as he got up to close his door. He lowered his voice just a little. “Seriously? At first I thought that he just liked fooling around himself with the software, you know. But after a while I realized that he was spending far too much money on our services for that and, frankly, he doesn’t seem like the kind of guy that thinks play time is all that important.”

Ariel had to agree. “So do you think that the man is a little crazy? I mean, he must have convinced himself that he does need to make changes that fast.”

Jake nodded. “I figured he was maybe, kind of, you know, harmless delusional. One of those weird really smart guys that isn’t totally in touch. So I looked more closely at his trading history. We’ve got all sorts of records from him and his company, so that we can run tests using real life data from the past. I thought I’d look at it and establish that this stuff he was asking us for was basically frivolous, in case, you know, sometime down the road we couldn’t meet his demands. Then I’d have some ammunition to point out to my bosses that this man was asking for a degree of speed and flexibility that just weren’t warranted. I saw it as a kind of CYA thing.”

“I’d be careful,” Ariel warned. “I don’t think Eoin would like the idea of you being able to prove that one of his big clients was asking for things he didn’t need.”

“I know. I didn’t exactly bring Eoin into this little experiment. Ariel, look, if you want me to stop talking now, I will and I don’t blame you. I don’t want to put you on the spot with Eoin and I don’t want to put you in a compromising position just to protect me.”

“It’s okay,” Ariel assured him. “There isn’t an employee in the world that doesn’t occasionally do a little probing on their own. I’ve got no problem with where you’re going.”

“That’s just it,” Jake said. “I’m not going there. I thought I was, but the truth is weirder. Baldur isn’t asking for tools he doesn’t need. Anyone else would be.”

Jake took a deep breath, like he was trying to decide if he should go on.

“Don’t you smoke?” Ariel asked.

“Yeah. Want to join me outside while I have a cigarette?”

Ariel nodded. This no longer seemed like the sort of conversation to hold in the office, and she was starting to have a funny feeling about how this tied in with the close-up visions she had experienced when she touched Baldur’s hand. A cigarette would probably help Jake and fresh air would definitely help her.

Once they were outside, Jake resumed.

“I ran tests using what Baldur tried to do with his current tools against what he would have been able to do if he had the tools he wanted. And then I looked at the same kind of information using Cillian’s investment history and I looked at it against the decisions made by two other big clients from the London office that I managed to get data on. Here’s the thing. If I improved the speed at which Cillian and the other two could have made their parameter changes, it wouldn’t have benefitted any of them. They’d win on a few new trades and lose a few that they originally won—just what you’d expect. You just don’t get new information that fast. Only it looks like Baldur does. He’d have actually done substantially better if he had the tools he wanted.”

“Really?” Ariel asked. “Is he getting some sort of insider information?”

“Not that quickly, he isn’t. And not on every stock traded. His parameters deal with trends. It’s more like he has a minute-to-minute sense of what whole segments of the market are going to do. He still needs us, our machines and our software, to make the millisecond trades, but the faster he can direct that software, even on a second-by-second basis, the better he does. We give him a few more seconds of speed and he starts to beat out everyone else past any statistical probability.”

Ariel’s funny feeling about Baldur Hákonarson was growing. “Jake, do you believe that somebody can, I don’t know, sense the future?”

“You mean like be some kind of psychic? No, I don’t. What I mean is that I didn’t used to believe in that kind of thing, at all. But facts are facts. I just don’t know how else to explain what this man can do.”

Ariel tried to make light of it. “In this case it has to be some kind of speedy crystal ball, doesn’t it, because I don’t think any psychic claims to predict things that fast?” She tried to redirect the conversation. “Is it a good thing? I mean should we be giving Baldur tools to beat out everyone else, even our other customers?”

Jake shrugged. “Maybe not, but I don’t see that it’s Ullow’s job to penalize Baldur for being exceptionally good at what he does. And just because I don’t know how he manages it doesn’t make it unethical.” Jake looked a little uncomfortable. “I haven’t come up with a good reason yet to share this information with anyone. Well, except with you today, but could this conversation stay between us, at least until I figure out more about what it is I’ve figured out?” Jake gave Ariel the same friendly brush back on the arm. “Please,” he said.

“Of course.” Ariel nodded. “Thanks Jake. I can do my job better if I know more, even if I don’t understand it either. Don’t worry, this doesn’t have to go anywhere. If you ever figure out how he manages this trick, I’d love an update.”

As she headed back inside, she knew two things. The first was that Jake had little role to play in whatever scenario Baldur was involved in down the road. At least, Jake’s touch set off nothing that sent up alarms. Secondly, next week there was at least a fifty-fifty chance that Jake’s wife would surprise him by bringing home a new puppy. A little chow chow, and a really cute one too.

Excerpt 3:
The work portion of the trip would all be at the end, so Ariel tried to enjoy the beginning of her little vacation. She packed a few good books and her warmest clothes, and delighted in a window seat as she watched the late afternoon sun set on her way into Iceland. She found a favorite song on her mp3 player and listened to the pretty shimmer of Ellie Goulding’s voice singing “Lights” as the giant Vatnajökull glacier gleamed beneath her when the plane dipped below the clouds. Ariel thought that perhaps she had never seen anything so beautiful as the various shades of blues that glistened off of the ice in the light of a sun moving low in the winter sky while the song played softly in her mind.

She joined her group at the Reykjavik airport for the evening flight on to Nuuk. The small band of mostly Icelandic travelers was quiet, but friendly, and she felt thankful to live in both a time and place where a woman could easily travel alone. Nuuk was just a quick stopover, and the next morning they boarded the pint-sized plane for Ilulissat, the main tourist destination in Greenland.

Ariel stepped off the plane to her first view of the barren rocks mottled with bright colored lichens that make up the tundra. She had never set foot inside of the Arctic Circle before. Tiny flickers and flashes erupted as her boot touched the ground.

My premonitions are stronger here, she noticed with surprise. The cold dry air? The earth’s magnetic field? There had to be a reason. She added it to her list of things to try to figure out later.

While they were waiting for the luggage to be brought into the waiting area of the airport, Ariel wandered off, looking for a bathroom. She turned into an office and noticed a man’s legs sticking out from under a desk.

“Are you okay?” She felt like she should say something.

She heard him chuckle. “No, I’m in serious need of somebody to grab the other end of this wire. One man doing a two man job.” Ariel saw that he was trying to get some sort of computer cable to go up through a small hole in the desk.

“Let me help.” She came over, pulled the cord through and by acquired instinct plugged it into the monitor where it was clearly intended to go.

“Thanks,” he said with appreciation, as he wriggled out from under the desk. Then he noticed that she’d connected the cable. “A helpful tourist and one that knows how to connect hardware.”

“I can manage considerably more than plugging in a monitor,” she laughed. “IT training here, though I don’t use it enough these days. I’m Ariel. Passing through trying to hunt down the ladies room.”

“You came all the way to the arctic to find a place to pee?” he teased.

She rolled her eyes and when he held out his hand she took it without thinking.

“Siarnaq,” he said and Ariel saw a small spark in the air before their hands touched.

Then for a few seconds, neither of them could have said a word if they had wanted to.

For Siarnaq, the images he saw were so much larger than those he was used to—close-up and huge, like looking at something right in front of your face with a pair of binoculars. Amidst the blur of something too big to take in, he knew that he was finally seeing the future from his own lifetime. The prospect filled him with joy, but the images were just so close that he had no way to make any sense of them, The accompanying knowledge in his brain seemed to be coming at him like hundreds of birds chirping. We must not be designed to see what comes in our own lifetime, he reasoned.

To Ariel, the flickers of the distant future went wild in the corners of her brain, like far off flashing lights too remote for her to see the images that they were illuminating. This man matters in a future too far off for me to see, she thought. I wish I could enlarge these images somehow. We must not be able to see past the next several months. I guess that makes sense.

He let go of her hand slowly.

“You’re a seer.” He said it like he knew it for a fact. He studied her red hair, fair skin and blue eyes. She wasn’t of the People, or at least if she had Inuit ancestors they were few indeed. Had he ever met a seer who wasn’t mostly Inuit? He didn’t think so.

“You get visions of the future?” Ariel’s heart was starting to beat louder. She had never expected to be asking this question, much less to be in this situation for a second time in her life.

The Inuit man laughed. “The world is full of seers,” he said.

I had no idea that would be so good to know, she thought.

Siarnaq added gently. “You have a lot to learn. You’re with the tour group?” he asked. She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. “Today, they give you time to shop and sightsee. Let’s go get a cup of coffee.”