Sunday, 26 January 2014

S6.207 - Uncomfortable Setting

The Story So Far: The inhabitants of Fractal City have been teaching personified math about the nature of their existence. Very soon, a decision will be made as to whether the high school functions are reunited - or recycled.

Logan eyed his companion, a troubled look on his face. "QT, if we can't ask what to take, how will we know what to take?"

The blonde polynomial tugged at a couple loose strands of hair near her ear. "Consider that the characteristic function has the value 1 if input is in the set, and 0 otherwise. So... so this is a matter of us choosing something in the set. Something with good 'chi', if you will. We'll know it when we see it!"

The redhead frowned. "Feels a bit like making a snap decision. That's Expona's forte, not mine."

QT looked around at all the books and other items on the shelves. "Give me a moment then," she murmured. The catgirl began to walk through the novelties shop, her palm out in front of her.

Logan looked up at the ceiling again. "Okay we'll... take something," he assured. "I'll just leave payment here?" He placed the coins in his hand on a nearby table. There was no response. Logan thrust his hands into his pockets and rocked back and forth on his heels for a moment. "So... um... calculate the size of any good sets lately?"

"The set of rational numbers," came the response from all around.

This caught Logan off guard, as he hadn't really expected an answer. "Oh yes?" he remarked. "What can you conclude about size for an infinite set?"

"Follow the link."

Game. Set. Unmatched.
A nearby book glowed briefly. Logan approached it, noticing a triangle stenciled on the side. He felt a chill run through him, and suddenly wondered if he was really ready for the answer to his idle question. In a set, not in a set - could math really be so straightforward? Should it be? He began to understood the Popcorn function's reluctance towards having the Characteristic Function around.

Yet despite his misgivings, he slowly reached out...

"I think I've got it," QT said, approaching once more. She carried with her what looked like a fuzzy six sided die, about ten centimetres on each side.

"Oh, good," Logan answered, feeling a sense of relief wash over him as he drew his hand back from the book. "Should we head out then?"

The question was sort of directed at the ceiling, but this time there was no response. After exchanging glances one more time, Logan and QT departed the shop without another word. They emerged to find that everyone standing outside looked rather troubled.

"We're fine, nothing to worry about!" Logan assured.

"Actually, our world's going to end in a matter of hours," ParaB said, her lips tight. "Julia just got a message from Can-Tor. I'm confirming mentally with Para. We're all headed to the X-Mansion."


Sunday, 19 January 2014

S6.206 - CF Sees

The Story So Far: The inhabitants of Fractal City have been teaching personified math about the nature of their existence. Very soon, a decision will be made as to whether the high school functions are reunited - or recycled.

"This is as far as I'll go," Julia remarked. She stopped in front of what looked like a small novelties shop. "Moreover, the Characteristic Function will only see two of you. Logan and QT."

"Me?" QT squeaked.

"Her?" Radik, Cosecant and ParaB chorused, all with different inflections.

"For crying out loud, why even bring us along then?!" Radik shouted.

"You seemed upset the last time a decision excluded you, regarding the Overline bar," Julia remarked. "So it seemed best to have you all here, at the least."

Logan examined Julia's expression, and noticed that she seemed a bit uncomfortable about the situation herself. "It's fine," he assured the others after a moment. "We'll be in and out in no time. Come on, QT."

The catgirl followed Logan a bit hesitantly as the redhead walked through the door of the shop. The interior turned out to be mostly bookshelves, loaded with reading material in addition to other interesting trinkets. Granted, there was also a small alcove near the door containing a table, some display cases around, and what seemed like stairs leading up to a secondary storage level. QT saw a main desk, but the place was empty save for the two of them. Which is when a voice spoke from above.

"What you take will decide your path."

QT jerked her gaze back up to the second level, but saw nothing. Speakers in the walls? Was the Characteristic Function invisible? Logan was similarly confused, thus addressed his next comment towards the ceiling.

"Arr, err, we brought this gift," the Logarithm offered. He extended his hand, which contained eight coins. "Though there was a bit of a technical glitch. When I asked for four pieces of eight, I got..."

"What you take will decide your path."

Perhaps they'll take a magic box.

Logan looked at QT, who merely shrugged. "Well, we're hoping our path leads us to Statistics," Logan remarked.

"What you take will decide your path," the voice repeated for a third time.

"Then to get to Statistics, what do you want us to take?" Logan asked of the ceiling.

An unsettling silence, then, "What did you say?"

"I said what do you wa--" Logan was cut off as QT slapped her hand overtop of his mouth.

"Never ask that question!" she gasped, echoes of a similar dialogue ringing in her ears.


Sunday, 12 January 2014

S6.205 - Cue Bid

The Story So Far: The inhabitants of Fractal City have been teaching personified math about the nature of their existence. Very soon, a decision will be made as to whether the high school functions are reunited - or recycled.

Trigonometry were just about to start rehearsal. "I call the new piece 'Sunshine Redux'!" Para said, as she finished handing around the sheet music. "Because it brings the past back to the--"

"They've found us!" Elly cried out, bursting into Maud's bar. "I don't know how, but they've found us - run for it everybody!"

Maud dropped his conductor's baton as Para quickly hurried to Elly's side. "What do you mean? Who's found us?" the blonde polynomial asked.

"TPTB! Q, in specific, I think. We're all going to be destroyed! Warn the others! Run for the hills!" Elly turned to flee, but Para grabbed her by the arm. The ellipse's frantic intensity had the attention of everybody now.

"Elly, wait! What is this about 'Transcendental Pi-Type Beings'? Why do you think we'll be destroyed??" Para protested. Maud moved to join them as everyone else began to put away their instruments.

The ellipse took in a deep breath. "It's a vision I've been subtly trying to tune into, ever since that attempt to connect with math. It suddenly became clear. I think we were hidden here for a time by... by someone. But now Q has found us, and we're to be eliminated! The new order - they're already in our subject! We have to escape, before it's too late!!"

"And go WHERE?" Para protested.

"To other subject areas," Maud realized. "As we'd planned."

"No." ArcSin stood up. "We're better than that. We can use the Jump Gate we found to get to Fractal City!"

"Would we nae need a ship ta use it?" Cotangent objected.

ArcSin and ArcCos exchanged uncertain glances. "We'll build one," ArcCos decided.

"We only have about six hours! I'm sorry. I'm so sorry!" With that, the ellipse pulled out of Para's grip and ran back out of the building.

"Which is barely enough time for the gate to finish powering," ArcSin realized, grimacing. "Still, maybe I can build something if I..." He reached into his pocket and pulled out his Nisano glasses, then looked over at his twin brother.

ArcCos bit down on his lower lip. "This music. It was helping. We agreed you'd stop changing yourself."

"Hold on," Para said. "If the Jump Gate IS on the Fractal network, maybe Logan can come for us in his ship. I'll try to get through to ParaB."

"She'll be meeting with Characteristic Function right around now," Maud reminded. He frowned. "Wait. Do you think it's mere chance that the CF encounter is happening at the same time as this crisis?"

"Coincidence? I think not," Tangent remarked. She began to tap at her belt buckle, in order to contact Lyn.

"Hold on. Here's what I don't get," ArcCot observed as he snapped the case shut on his cello. He waited until all eyes were on him before continuing. "Can someone please tell me," he said, gesturing wildly, "how a deity called 'Q' is able to act irrationally?"


Sunday, 5 January 2014

S6.204 - Illogic Gate

The Story So Far: The inhabitants of Fractal City have been teaching personified math about the nature of their existence. Very soon, a decision will be made as to whether the high school functions are reunited - or recycled.

"Can-Tor! We need an update on that anomalous reading!"

The darker skinned fractal spun in her chair, looking away from the control panels and towards the new arrival. "Geez, Bert, you can't wait five minutes? I was just going to go look for you!"

"I've saved you the trouble then," the space covering fractal shot back.

Can-Tor sighed, rolling her eyes. "Fine. Confirmed. It's definitely a new Jump Gate on the network. As it's been powering up for a few days, I estimate it will be fully functional in about twelve hours."

Hill grimaced. He walked to the large viewing windows of the control room, staring out at their active wormhole, sitting within the rails of the giant circular disk. "Shut us down."

"Completely? Cuz that takes as long as activation."

Hill let out a breath of exasperation. "You know I mean use the iris! We shouldn't make ourselves an open target when they come online. Just in case. Weier stayed at the mansion this evening, yes?"

Can-Tor nodded. "Yeah, Julia took the math subject folk to see CF instead. Weierstrass is upstairs, preparing to be all diplomatic." She stood up to reach for the panel that would initiate the iris, effectively blocking off their end of the wormhole. Then she paused.

It's either a wormhole or a Time Tunnel.

"What?" Hill snapped.

"Something's bugging me. Can't put my finger on it. The power for the new gate, there was something. In the readings. Something weird... not something I saw. Something missing..." Can-Tor looked down at the iris panel. "The shutoff!" With a snap of her fingers, she sat back down and began typing at a keyboard.

"What? What about the shutoff?"

Can-Tor didn't respond immediately. Hill reached for her, only to have her push off with her feet, causing her chair to roll across the room. She began flicking some switches at a panel on the far wall. "Can-Tor!" Hill shouted. "What about the shutoff?"

The fractal pulled out her Pad and tapped at it briefly before looking up. "Ick. Okay. You know how the Jump Gate is self sustaining? It pulls in about 1.21 gigawatts of extra energy when the wormhole becomes fully active, but after that, the power drain is minimal."

"Yes," Hill snapped. "Get to the point."

"New gate point doesn't seem to have a regulator. Power isn't showing any signs of curving off as the wormhole approaches activation. Forget twelve hours, it'll be online in half that time, and the power spike may well cause it to implode, sending a shock wave back through the entire network."

Hill's eyebrows shot up. "Any danger to us?"

"Oh, heck yes."

Hill grimaced. "And six hours isn't enough time to power down. So what can we do?"

Can-Tor tossed her Pad aside. "Pray to TPTB."

<— TO 2014 ASIDE INDEX 6 NEXT —>

Wednesday, 1 January 2014

One Year Later: Jan 01/14


Author Notes:

In 2013, there was never a Wednesday or Sunday that went by without an update. For 2014... the "Taylor's Polynomials" serial will be scaling back, updating only weekly. The rest of this post is an explanation of why.

1) Time. The serial is sucking up all my free time. Gone are the days when I slap a talking head next to some text. I'm making new drawings several times per month. I'm creating new characters, fleshing out the universe, and have added race as an issue, something I NEVER thought I would touch. In December, I once thought I'd have to let an update day slide. Instead, I forced the ideas out of my head onto the page. I don't think I'm at Hobby Burnout levels yet, but I'm headed there.

2) Public Interest. I now run two blogs - this serial, and MathieX, where I post miscellaneous thoughts. I posted 8 times here in November, and got about 1240 views. I posted 6 times there in November, and got over 2000 views. Granted, many hits may have been for previous posts, but this blog began FIRST and has MORE POSTS. MathieX also maintained hits through December, while here December views dropped to 1003 - despite the big Episode 200 and the Christmas Special. Conclusion: There is more public interest in the things I am doing elsewhere.

3) Inspiration. Related to the first point, I hardly have time to READ anymore. I need to do that, not merely because I enjoy it, but to see what other serials are doing (successfully) that I am not. I need the inspiration that comes from the ideas and successes of others. It's also been suggested that I try to bundle the first three series' together into some form of publication, and right now I'm too busy writing to even think about trying that.

So, this will be the last Wednesday update for a while. Perhaps indefinitely.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank my core group of regular readers, as well as everyone who has offered me words of support. Including those who gave me advice in a past MathieX post when I started ranting about how no one remembers me, and how can I be more interesting. I have tiny tweet files on my desktop that I look to when I'm feeling down, and I treasure the remarks many of you have made about this story... even though I suspect that you have forgotten that you made them.

52 continuous weeks. 104 updates, every Wednesday and Sunday. (85 serial posts; 8 song parodies; 5 explanations/extra posts; 3 art posts; 2 recaps... and the splash page for Series 5 was a separate update.) I'm like clockwork. Regular. Reliable. Hidden. And forgettable.

So, I'm sad. But at the same time, I suppose I am better off than some. I do get 30 hits on a good day, up from 5 hits back at the start of 2012. Moreover, a shift to Sunday-Only updates could give me the freedom I need to serve you, the readers, even better. Time will tell.

Here's to 2014.

Gregory Taylor