Reviews: Spangler, K.B.

Ten Fathoms Deep on the Road to Hell

Spanish Mission — K. B. Spangler
Hope Blackwell, book 2

2018’s Spanish Mission is the second volume in K. B. Spangler’s Hope Blackwell series of novels1.

Seeking to distract her cyborg friend Mary “Mare” O’Murphy from the disquieting revelation that ghosts exist and are quite visible to Enhanced Americans, Hope Blackwell takes Mare and their talking koala pal Speedy on a road trip to Vegas.

This bold gambit sets Hope and Mare up for an encounter with paranormal impresario Eli Tellerman of the reality show Spooky Solutions [2]. Tellerman knows Hope for the psychic that she is. In short order he manages to strong-arm her into joining his latest venture.

It’s an exciting foray into the desert in search of ancient treasure, pirate ships lost in an arid wasteland, and (of course) ghosts.

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A Restless Spirit on an Endless Flight

Stoneskin — K. B. Spangler
Deep Witch

2017’s Stoneskin is a prequel to K. B. Spangler’s upcoming Deep Witch trilogy.

Tembi Moon, one of the poorest of Adhama’s poor, knows her alleys and she knows that the alley in which she has awakened is no alley that she has ever seen. It’s the first hint that something vast and alien has taken a personal interest in her.

Vast, alien, and as friendly as a puppy dog.

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My Brain IBM

Brute Force — K. B. Spangler
Rachel Peng, book 4

2016’s Brute Force is the fourth instalment in K. B. Spangler’s Rachel Peng  series.

Hope Blackwell can handle herself, but the child with her cannot. Ambushed, Blackwell has no choice but to go peacefully with her kidnappers for the sake of young Avery.

Taking Blackwell is a bold move for the kidnappers. Not only will Blackwell be a very … uh, challenging prisoner to contain, but by kidnapping her, they’ve made themselves targets for her husband, Patrick Mulcahy, head of the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Enhancement Technologies. Behind OACET’s harmless name is a tight-knit community of cyborgs.

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A Game of Ghosts

Greek Key — K.B. Spangler

K. B. Spangler’s 2015 Greek Key sends a trio of odd characters on a quest to discover the origins of the Antikythera Mechanism (a real-world artefact that featured in a subplot of an earlier Spangler book, State Machine). The cast of characters includes:

  • Mike Reilly, the World’s Worst Psychic,
  • Hope Blackwell, World’s Second Worst Psychic, previously met in A Girl and Her Fed),
  • and a talking koala named Speedy.

Hope is well connected, rich thanks to her connections and a talented martial artist. She has one quirky ability that makes her particularly useful when it comes to tracking down the origins of an ancient, technologically anomalous device: Hope can talk to ghosts.

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Murder in the White House!

State Machine — K. B. Spangler
Rachel Peng, book 3

2015’s State Machine is the third book in the Rachel Peng series [1]. The protagonist, Peng, is among the survivors of an ill-conceived experiment in neural prosthesis. Having struggled back to sanity, the surviving cyborgs have banded together under the banner of the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Enhancement Technologies for mutual support and protection. They offer their services to the government in an attempt to convince society in general [2] that the cyborgs are more useful than dangerous.

Rachel Peng’s personal contribution to the cause is serving as OACET’s liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police. She uses her unique array of senses to crack baffling cases. Her latest case, a murder, is notable because it took place in a heavily secured section of the White House and because the only apparent motive for the murder is theft. But theft of what?

(light spoilers)

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The Russians Came Knocking

K.B. Spangler

Set in the same universe as Digital Divide and Maker Space (and A Girl and Her Fed, which I have still not read), this novella offers a change of pace, eschewing the procedurals of the two Rachel Peng novels for the very sexy adventures of Josh Glassman, Deputy Director of the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Technologies, hunky cyborg media relations expert and self-declared man-whore.

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Maker Space

K.B. Spangler
Rachel Peng, book 2

Sequel to Digital Divide, this opens with the destruction of Gayle Street in a series of explosions. The careful timing of the explosions, calculated to maximize casualties, shows that this is no Lac-Mégantic-style infrastructural misadventure but rather an act of deliberate willful malice aimed at Americans, one carried out on a spectacular scale.

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Digital Divide

K.B. Spangler
Rachel Peng, book 1

Embarrassing confession time: from time to time people have sent me books to read in my spare time and I accept them, despite knowing I never get around to reading books in my spare time because I try hard never to have spare time. NEVER. I have had a e-copy of A Digital Divide long enough to misplace it (I bought a new copy, along with a couple of other Spangler books) and I never got around to reading it because I am a terrible person.

Spangler is probably best known for A Girl and Her Fed, which shares a universe with this novel. As it happens, I’ve never read A Girl and her Fed so any elements that would leap out at a fan of that strip were missed by me.

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