May 22nd, 2011


Review: The Iron Khan by Liz Williams

The Iron Khan: A Detective Inspector Chen Novel (Volume 5)The Iron Khan: A Detective Inspector Chen Novel by Liz Williams

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I wanted to like this book more than I actually did. The setting here is rich with potential - roughly speaking, it's a contemporary Far East where magic works and the mundane world is in regular contact with both Heaven and Hell. Williams makes great use of Chinese history, Chinese mythology, and her own imagination to create a world that is just full of cool stuff.

For all that, though, it didn't really grip me. Part of that is probably my fault for starting the series at book 5 - it's not difficult to figure out the basics of who the characters are or what's going on, but I'd probably care about them all a lot more if I'd been following along from book one. Part of it was also the plot structure - the book starts with the characters in different places, dealing with seemingly different problems. It eventually becomes apparent that they are all the same problem, and then it all comes together rather hectically with a large bang at the end.

File this one under the interesting but flawed category. However, I most likely will track down some of the earlier Inspector Chen novels, because this book certainly demonstrates that the setting and characters have potential.

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DOMS of Doom!

So, what I said on Friday about my quadriceps seceding? Yeah, totally. Yesterday, both getting up from a seated position and getting into a seated position were sufficiently painful that it usually took a couple of attempts to do either. I spent some of my relatively immobile time reading review articles like this one and this one to see what the latest in medical science has to say about the treatment of Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS), which is the official medical term for why your muscles decide to hate you after you do exercise that they're not used to.

Alas, modern medical science mostly says, "Suck it up, cupcake!" Light exercise of the affected muscles provides temporary relief, but doing it is no picnic. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs have been shown in some studies to provide relief, and in some studies not, and in some studies have been shown to delay healing. However, the good news is that in a worst case scenario, I should be pain-free within 96 hours after exercise, which means that I'll get at least a day of being able to get out of a chair like an able-bodied person before I go weight train again on Wednesday. (Don't worry! The post-exercise soreness for my second session will be much less bad - I've already trashed all of my weakest muscle fibers!)

There was a period yesterday during which I spent quite a lot of time contemplating whether I wanted a glass of water badly enough to endure the pain of standing up and walking to the kitchen to get it. This must be what people mean when they talk about a physical disability being mentally exhausting - it's bad enough that you can't just do what you want to do, but having to go through the whole, "Well, the water will be good for me. On the other hand, maybe I should just wait until I have some other reason to get up and then I can accomplish two things while only having to get up once..." is particularly draining.

Audio Review: Doctor Who: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster

Doctor Who: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster (Big Finish Audio Drama, #143)Doctor Who: The Crimes of Thomas Brewster by Jonathan Morris

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have kind of mixed feelings about Thomas Brewster - I liked the character when they initially introduced him, but I've never thought that Big Finish ever made it fully plausible that a Victorian orphan, even an admittedly bright one like Brewster, would have the nearly effortless ability to master future technologies and societies that Brewster does. And somehow I think that prevents me taking as much pleasure in Brewster's antics as I should. Or maybe it's the way Brewster is always trying to justify himself as having noble ends. I think I might actually like him better if he were a more straightforwardly self-interested liar and thief.

(At the same time, I think I remember complaining when I reviewed what was ostensibly Brewster's final story that I thought there was more potential in the character and that it was a shame that Big Finish hadn't kept him on for more stories. I don't think I'm being inconsistent here - I do think there's potential in the character. It's just not being developed in the way I might prefer.)
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