'The Fear Index' Trades In Thrills

When British novelist Robert Harris set out a couple of years ago to write his next thriller, he drew inspiration from George Orwell's 1984.

He wanted to explore how humans fall victim to the domineering forces of their time.

In this age of economic distress, he set his sights on global finance.

As he wrote, Harris was searching for a plausible plot twist, and real life provided it.

On May 6, 2010, something known as a "flash crash" happened on Wall Street.

On that day, the Dow plummeted — the result, in part, of lightening-fast, computer-generated trades.

Harris tells Morning Edition's Steve Inskeep he had found the Frankenstein for his latest novel.

The Fear Index is the story of a hedge fund, a scientist and his computer run amok.

Copyright 2012 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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