Sunday 15 September 2013

Pre S6: Serial Recap

Still on a hiatus, as prep work for SERIES 6: STAT US continues. What a great time to get caught up!
According to this, you've got Tim! ... Time, you've got time!

If you missed the rewrites reflection post last Wednesday (on my other blog), follow that link. At the bottom of this post, you can find links to new song parodies, which will be going live on regular update days.

Here for recaps? We've got 'em! There's written blurbs below, as well as links to both a brief (under 3 min) partial recap video, along with the full post index for each series.

SERIES 1: INTRODUCTIONS  (Index Page)  (Video Recap)
  In which Maud opens a bar in town and meets Lyn the Line, Para the Quadratic, and Root - Para's boyfriend?

SERIES 2: PARA GONE  (Index Page)  (Video Recap)
  In which Para gets kidnapped by the Conics, who think she should be a member of their family. The Polynomials team up with some of their friends to mount a rescue.

SERIES 3: TRY ANGLES  (Index Page)  (Video Recap)
  In which Tangent leaves Trigonometry, causing Lyn and Circe to join forces and enter the Angle Zone. They uncover a deadly plot, as masterminded by Versine, a Trigonometric Function who isn't seeing much use lately.

SERIES 4: AFTER MATH  (Index Page)  (Video Recap)
  In which a mysterious force kicks the math-tans out of their subject area. Thus some personifications explore math within other subjects, as Logan's new crew use his "bigger on the inside" base to seek answers from Maud's sister.

SERIES 5: SIGN CHANGE  (Index Page)  (Video Recap)
  In which Logan's gazebo, which now includes the Step Functions, manages to locate Fractal City. Meanwhile, Para becomes terminally depressed, and before the plot threads resolve, a mathematical function dies.
If you're unaware of Minkowski's Question Mark function,
and Conway's Box function, you didn't read Series 5.

Note the video recap for Series 5 is NEW. In addition, if you missed the Art Aside posts, featuring commissioned art of the characters, I recommend checking them out:
 Art Aside: Para
 Art Aside: Lyn + Root
 Art Aside: Trig

A set of Author Explains posts, which I referenced at the end of the interview last week, will follow in two weeks time. There, I'll make some of the prior math/scifi references clear, along with telling you Why You Should Be Reading. There's also plans for a guest post.

This means Series 6 will begin after Canadian Thanksgiving. At that time, the characters will deal with The Fractals, plus fallout from the events of Series 5.

Before all that, as promised, here's some song parodies! The new links will go live on Wednesdays and Sundays over the coming weeks. Enjoy!

1 - Makin' A Graph (tune of Stayin' Alive)
2 - Matching Fraction (tune of Satisfaction)
3 - When Can We Cancel (tune of With or Without You)
4 - Don't Stop With Riemann (tune of Don't Stop Believin')

Sunday 8 September 2013

Post S5: Para Interview

With SERIES 5 over and SERIES 6 still in development - and teaching now occupying the lion's share of my time - expect some filler. In the coming weeks, I'll put up song parodies, some behind the scenes information, and the interview contained within this post.

First, if you read on, a SPOILER WARNING for the climax of Series 5, in case you haven't read that yet. Secondly, unlike some who interview their characters, I'm going to have a character interview me.

Para: Wait, what? Where am I?

Those questions would take too long to answer... you'll want to pick something a little more straightforward. Everyone, this is Quadratic, better known as Para! She's a second degree polynomial, who is first taught in Grade 10 math courses.

Para: Right... why am I here?

You're the natural choice to conduct my interview. You're already addressing the audience in the serial, much to my surprise.

Para: Your surprise? Surely you saw that coming.

Nope. While it made sense to me to write the "Being Erica" parody episode in first person, you're the one who extended it from there. I'm not quite sure where it's going to end up now.

Para: No? Well gee, would it have been easier for you if I had simply DIED in the last series?!

You were never going to die, Para. Though I grant in the early drafts, you were going to jump off that cliff yourself, in order to save Lyn, who was falling.

Para: Really? Huh. That changed then.


Para: Whoa! Sore point much?

Not really. I mean, I'm mostly glad in how things turned out. But yeah, the climax for Series 5 was nothing like what I'd pictured. At ALL.

Para: Sine wasn't supposed to die then?

Oh. Okay, well, yes, she was always going to die. I did call the series SIGN CHANGE, after all. But it was going to be in a totally different way. I hadn't expected things to happen quite as fast as they did.

Para: Gee, sorry we couldn't prolong our misery and depression for you!!

Don't be like that. You know Para, the self-harm thing, I used to do it too, a long time ago. I actually wrote a whole post - on my other blog - about the story arc here. "Why I Write Series 5".

Para: But then why imprint that on ME?!

Because you're my favourite. It's all part of a bigger metaphor too, students having particular difficulty with Parabolas and Trig. Funny enough, a lot of mine last semester hated Trig MORE than Quadratics. So Sine's death might have caused some of them to applaud.

Para: Hm. I'll consider forgiveness. Your students read the serial then?

Oh, I doubt it, I meant metaphorical applause. I don't plug this in class, that would feel weird. For that matter, I only mention it occasionally when talking with teacher colleagues. I don't think they're that interested.

Para: Who is your - our - audience then?

I WISH I could answer that!!! The people who can follow the math apparently don't get my ongoing fantasy story. The people who enjoy stories are pretty silent, maybe getting tripped up by the math. And I'm not sure if either group catches my science fiction and pop culture references.

Para: Hm. Maybe if you took the time to explain them?

Explaining the joke never goes over well. Besides, I've incorporated so much math and other miscellaneous trivia by now that explaining would require an entire post in and of itself! Which... is actually a really good idea, come to think. Stay tuned for that, folks!

Para: Uh huh. Glad I could help. How many readers see us, anyway?

The Facebook page has 12 likes. A post generally gets just over 30 hits. I figure some are accidental clicks or spam, so about two dozen regular readers. This out of my 300 twitter followers, or the population of the world, or whatever. It's enough, so long as I occasionally hear from one.

Para: Feels low though. I guess we're not being exciting enough.

I'm sure it's my fault.

Para: I... can't argue with you. Because I suspect you're manipulating my thinking! Well, let's get back to plot, was me flying always going to be a thing?

Not always, but I came up with the idea in March, and the first episode of Series 5 was put up in April. So I guess you could say it was always going to be a thing for that Series. Unlike Lyn's power, which has been around longer and still hasn't been touched on.

Para: Sorry, Lyn's what?

Lyn has an ability too. I actually decided on hers back during initial character creation in June 2011. It simply hasn't come up yet.

Para: It hasn't come up in over two years? Exactly how much stuff have you done that 'hasn't come up yet'?!

Uh, lots. But then, a lot of it changes between when I think of the idea and when it appears - as seen in the latest plot derailments. For a more specific case, when I made Mink and Con, I also made her cousin, the Devil's Staircase. But that character design may change. As might Lyn's power, for that matter... that's why I haven't mentioned it. In fact... huh.

Para: ... You going to finish that thought?

I was going to say, part of the delay with Series 6 is that even some of the established characters are having their original designs looked at right now. It relates back to another post (on my other blog) about how you're all too caucasian. Again, fault is totally mine there.

Para: It sounds suspiciously like you're about to fiddle with my DNA.

That's why I hesitated on finishing the thought. Didn't want to worry you. Though you don't have DNA, you have variables and coefficients.

Para: Yeah, and if you mess with that look, you'll have to change all your clipart!

Don't I know it. Initially, I felt I had to bend Maud's hair (Modulus) so it made sense under his hat. I straightened it to finish off 2012, after an offhand remark by a student, only to realize doing so meant I'd need to redraw him... again! I'd already done that once, after the sunglasses came off. Hence Hyper's railgun exploding to reset his hairstyle.

Para: Cute.

I'm pretty good at coming up with explanations for things. Either on the fantasy side of the story, or in incorporating actual research for stuff like the Fractal characters. And yes, I do research. Hausdorff-Besicovitch dimensions aren't exactly in any curriculum that I'm aware of.

Para: Wait. If you spend so much time thinking about us, along with drawing, writing and research... when exactly do you have time for, you know, your day job? For math teaching?

Um. It can be tricky. But you're right, I should probably go plan some lessons, so I'll send you back now. By the way, you won't remember any of this happening.

Para: You hope.

Fair point.
If anyone's going to really surprise me, currently my money is on Para.

To be posted soon on my other blog: Serial Rewrite Recap

To be posted soon on this blog: Explaining the References


Wednesday 4 September 2013

S5.182 - Social Norm

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The Overline bar didn't look very busy when Logan and Cosecant arrived. One person was bartending, while a dark haired girl sat quietly on one of the bar stools. Nearby, Julia Childset and Howie Mandelbrot sat at a table. Julia immediately beckoned, so Logan and Csc approached the more familiar fractals, sitting down in the empty chairs available.


"Who's your statistics contact then?" Cosecant asked, after a quick round of greetings and handshakes. "The girl at the bar with the segmented hair?"

"No. Statistics isn't here yet," Howie said, sizing the two visitors up. "In fact this isn't a meeting with him, it's a test."

"A test?" Logan said warily.

Julia elbowed her companion. "Don't overdramatize, Mandelbrot. It's, well, a chance for you to see who it is before we actually attempt introductions. To see if you're ready. Because I don't think you've fully grasped what's really going on. In particular..." She looked to Cosecant. "He doesn't work in statistics, Csc. He IS statistics."

The trig's eye twitched. "His name is Statistics?"

Julia sat back and looked at them pensively. Howie rolled his eyes, then spoke up again. "Do you school-taught functions even know the meaning of statistics? It's not some boring field of study involving incomprehensible notation and numbers made up by pollsters. It's the study of data, of randomness and uncertainty, and of models! Mathematical models, which can be used to analyze and predict the actions of entire groups of people!" He spread his arms out. "I mean come on, humans are moving into an age that is levels of Asimov's psychohistory here, and it has statistics at it's core! How do you even see that being personified?!"

Logan and Cosecant exchanged a glance themselves. Both of them started to feel uneasy. The logarithm reached up to fiddle lightly with his eyepatch. Finally, he cleared his throat. "I guess..."

Which is when the bell jangled at the door, and everybody turned to see the new arrival walk in. "NORM!" chorused all the fractals, with the bartender adding, "What's new, Norm?"

"The existence of a fourth quartile, if my inbox is to be believed. I need a beer."

Logan's words remained frozen on his lips. Both he and Cosecant now simply sat openmouthed. Howie shook his head and let out a breath. "Test failed. They aren't ready."

"No," Julia acknowledged. The corner of her mouth tugged into a grin. "But they will be."



Sunday 1 September 2013

S5.181 - Bar Code

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It was days later. Cosecant still felt sick to her stomach. She wandered out of her hotel room - the Hilbert Hotel, of all places! - and onto the balcony, staring out at the city. From this vantage point, Fractal City was actually very pretty, and no longer so confusing; the fractals had resolved themselves into a scene that her mind was able to grasp. Admittedly, with some gaps, and her image that was slightly different from the one that Radik saw. If her conversation with him yesterday was to be believed, at any rate.

Csc's gaze moved left. The barrier around the place where Sine had disappeared was gone. They had hurried into it as soon as it had became possible. There had been no body, only Sine's period cane, warped and broken, left on the ground. It felt like evidence enough; Cosecant wasn't inclined to cling to any faint hopes after that.


So she had participated in their group's little memorial service, held back at the gazebo, and then remained in her hotel room ever since. Though that was about to change.

There was a knock at the door to her room. "Come in," Csc called out, stepping back off the balcony.

Logan swung the door open. "Hey. Joining me?"

"I guess." The reciprocal trig pinched the bridge of her nose. "Except Julia's only letting you bring one other person along, right? So why me?"

"You have to ask that?"

A pause. "Yeah, I think I do. Because if Sine were alive, you'd be bringing her."

Logan leaned back against the doorframe, crossing his arms. "Maybe, maybe not. You're not just some trigonometric replacement here, you're my chief of security. Plus, we're in such unfamiliar territory that I figured I should take someone who is observant, yet who has the ability to stay focussed. That's either you or ParaB, and she's been too busy consoling QT."

Cosecant's eye twitched. "Consoling."

Logan rubbed the back of his neck. "Yeah. Starting to wonder about those two. Regardless, I return to my original question - you joining me?"

Csc let out a breath of air. "Yeah." She adjusted her tie. "The meeting is in a bar right? Do I look overdressed? Because, well, all my clothes look like this, so we might have a problem there."

"I'm sure you look fine," Logan said dismissively. He pushed himself away from the frame and moved into the hall. "Besides, it's not like I know any more about it. The only thing Julia told me is that we'll be seeing our statistics contact there. Oh, and that the Overline bar is run by some guy named Vicsek Fontaine."