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State Machine (Rachel Peng Book 3) by [Spangler, K.B.]
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State Machine (Rachel Peng Book 3) Kindle Edition

3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review

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Length: 361 pages Word Wise: Enabled Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
Page Flip: Enabled Language: English

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Product description

Product Description

Nearly a year has passed since the Office of Adaptive and Complementary Enhancement Technologies went public. Agent Rachel Peng has adapted to her new life as the cyborg liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police, but for Peng and her team, murder is usually just the beginning. This time, the body is found in the unlikeliest of places, and the race to recover a stolen piece of antiquity will put Rachel and her team against one of the country's most powerful political figures.
Reviews for the Rachel Peng novels:

“And after spending the length of the novel with her, I'm eager to pick up the next one to see what's next for Rachel Peng” (io9)

“If I have any regrets about Rachel Peng, it's that we're unlikely to ever see her front and center on a multiplex screen, cracking wise before she shoots somebody's kneecaps off. And we should. Rachel Peng is a bad-ass for the digital age.” (New York Times bestselling author, Seanan McGuire)

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 2751 KB
  • Print Length: 361 pages
  • Simultaneous Device Usage: Unlimited
  • Sold by: Amazon Australia Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Enabled
  • Screen Reader: Supported
  • Enhanced Typesetting: Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars 1 customer review
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #82,500 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nice light reading. Mix of police procedural, political thriller and sci-fi, with good characterisation and fairly tight plot. Won't win the Hugo, but will keep you amused on a rainy afternoon.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) (May include reviews from Early Reviewer Rewards Program) 4.6 out of 5 stars 39 reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Another tale featuring your favorite blind lesbian cyborg half-Chinese/half-Scottish crime-fighting machine 15 June 2015
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
K.B. Spangler's third Rachel Peng novel is much like the others; it develops the character of Rachel Peng, the blind cyborg half-Chinese half-Scottish (or is it Irish? sorry, it's been a week or two) lesbian ex-military crime-fighting machine from OACET; it is built around a central mystery, in this case the theft of something obscure from the White House archives; and it also develops the status of the cyborgs as a group vis-a-vis the public, the political apparatus, and their creator and evil nemesis, Senator Hanlon. The novel features some tense action scenes, as when Rachel chases the woman who pulled off the theft through a crowded marketplace and engages her in hand-to-hand combat, and later when Rachel attempts to save a wounded witness by driving (yes, the blind woman drives!) crazily through the congested streets of DC while being chased by heavily armed assassins. It gets personal when Rachel's co-workers find out (some of) the truth about the five years the OACET agents spent enduring psychological torture. But the novel focuses more than anything else on the battle between the cyborgs and Hanlon -- their attempts to expose and undermine the other climaxing in a shocking and deadly crime.

In case you were wondering where the title "State Machine" fits in, it has a double meaning. It refers both to an ancient Greek computing device, the Antikythera mechanism, and to the operations of the government. The White House theft was linked to the Antikythera mechanism, which figures calendars and positions of the stars and planets. The second part has more to do with how the stars align in Congress with respect to the status of OACET and the cyborgs. Do the cyborgs need to give up some of their capabilities in order to assure Congress and the public that they are not a menace? What would have to be done to the cyborg technology to make its benefits available to the public without the (arguably) undesirable side effect of creating a much larger collective consciousness? These policy questions loom large.

Bottom line: If you've read the preceding Rachel Peng novels, this one will be quite familiar. I found it a bit repetitive and a bit draggy in parts, but it was largely enjoyable, and I appreciate Spangler's attempts to think through some of the issues associated with brain augmentation as well as the perennial "How can we tolerate the mutants among us?" issues that plague "special" people throughout the universes of comics. Recommended to veterans; newbies should begin either with the first Rachel Peng novel, "Digital Divide", or, better yet, the online comic "A Girl and Her Fed," which, though substantially sillier than the novels, provides a good deal of background you won't find elsewhere.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Entertaining, thought-provoking, and highly relevant 19 May 2015
By C. Battey - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
State Machine, the third Rachel Peng book, is the best of the series so far. Like the first two books, it blends the police-procedural and techno-thriller genres with profound questions about the intersections between law and technology, and the ethical and legal difficulties that arise when technology evolves faster than the law can adapt.

Spangler's heroine and her fellow Agents care deeply about those questions, not only out of patriotism but also as a matter of survival, and I finished the book with a new appreciation for them as well. The close third-person narration and a warm (and occasionally sarcastic) sense of humor kept me inside Rachel's head, cheering on her successes and sympathetic to her failures.

State Machine is entertaining, thought-provoking, and highly relevant to today's technological and legal issues.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very different kind of Cyborg story 7 June 2015
By S Hutchison - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is the third part of the novelized back story for the web comic "A Girl and Her Fed" featuring Rachel Peng, a side character from the comic.

The web comic started in 2006, with a quirky, minimalistic art style and really interesting storytelling, a mildly science-fantasy flavored story about a scatterbrained but brilliant woman who has been befriended by the ghost of Benjamin Franklin, and the nearly emotionless, monolith of a federal agent assigned to watch her when her name appears on a terrorist watch list.

Spangler went through her archives and re-drew the first year or so of the story, revising the storytelling to reflect her improvement as a writer and to get rid of unnecessarily 'cute' or overly-timely bits. You can still find the older art and story under the 'flip arrow' in the corner of the comics. It's a bit of a jolt when you get to the end of the 'redrawn' part because there's about six months' worth (at slightly over one comic page per week) between the end of the redrawn part and the point where Spangler changes to her new art style.

If you want to read it, you can find it at -- but be warned, it can eat up a day or two of your time, catching up. The storytelling in the comic is every bit as good as in the book, and you can see her developing as a writer.

The science fantasy element continues to develop in the books and in the web comic, and because it's been happening since 2006, there are a few minor inconsistencies and 'gotchas' that Spangler acknowledges. Further, not everything is seen from a single point-of-view, and that means that not everything is going to look the same.

Technically, Spangler is an exceptionally good writer. She has minimal misspellings, wrong-homonyms, and grammatical glitches, and avoids the trap of telling rather than showing through her story narration. This is especially important since each book contains a mystery, appropriately to Rachel Peng's job as a detective with the Washington DC Metro Police. There are very few (if any) missing threads, each character is presented as a person with multiple facets, even when they're a walk-on, and there is a strong sense of place and continuity between the events in this book and the two previous books and the web comic - there are a few 'call-outs' to insider secrets from the web comic that are not seen in these books that web comic readers will immediately recognize, but since our protagonist and her compatriots do not know those secrets, they simply don't have any effect on what the characters in the book actually see or understand.

She writes political context into her stories, without revealing an untoward inclination in any specific direction. Her dry wit strikes both conservative and liberal thought the lens of her characters. However, it's important to know that the protagonist, and the special agency she is part of, all exist as a part of a conspiracy, headed by one person who starts as a wealthy industrialist who moves into politics to further his conspiracy. The conspiracy is to create human weapons, using a computer chip and advanced science that connects into the brains of these weapons, giving them a sort of super-access to computers and machines via an energy frequency nobody quite understands yet. It's this cyborg nature that gives Rachel her special gifts and handicaps. The conspiracy used an intrusive, obnoxious interface that responded to emotions to force the agents into a state of emotional withdrawal, then abused prescription psychoactive drugs to 'treat' them and force them further down. The reason for this: to create absolutely obedient, emotionless, unquestioning weapons who would do what their controllers told them. How that failed, is not part of the three books, which deal with the aftermath: an agency of 400 people who are intimately connected as a 'family' and who now have to make sure that they cannot be abused and misused. Because these people are patriots - every one of them volunteered for the operation, though they were lied to about the outcome.

A warning about this book and the other two, and the comic: it's written for adults. Not "young adults" - if your 14 year old (or you, for that matter) can't think about sex between characters as being something that happens, that may be humorous or horrible or wonderful, or simply a thing that gets mentioned, then you won't want that person reading this, lest they encounter ideas that might make them think differently.

People die. People get shot. There's injustice that doesn't get resolved. There's moral ambiguity, and moral standard, and intelligent thought and discussion between characters about what ethics are good, what government can and should do, and what the nature of responsibility is, on a personal, corporate, business, and government level (for a variety of government agencies.) This is a peculiarly American book as well - the flaws and the strengths of our country, the topics of terrorism, conspiracy, and individual rights and responsibilities, are examined overtly and covertly.

There's also adult language, and there may be a few dirty words. There may even be creative use of new ones.

You should read this book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Third book keeps the energy of the first two and deepens the metaplot 23 August 2015
By Jeff Foarde - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Rachel Peng is an engaging character in an interesting universe. Well written, intelligent, with a lot of DC love for those who know the city well. If you love a good thriller but found that the 42nd novel with a straight, white male with military/police background, a slightly broken past, fighting against the odds and corrupt corporation/government was just too much, this is a welcome break.

The first two novels in this series introduced the Metro PD and the world of government cyborg-dom. Now we start to see the machinations behind the scenes, with another good mystery to solve. One of the amazing things about KB's writing is that her worlds are full of complexity and interest, but also incredibly human characters. People aren't the one-faceted pastiches you tend to see in most thrillers, and there aren't any strawmen or Evil Villian types.

For those who don't know this character was born in a comic (, but if that turns you off, I'd recommend reading a sample first. Like any good superhero movie, you don't need to know the backstory to enjoy it, but for those that want more of the universe, you can find out all about the birth of OACET and many of the other characters there. Honestly, it's kind of fun to read these books without thinking too much about it because the main character DOESN'T know a lot of the details, and that means the author can give you a lot of clever moments.
2.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy sound and fury and don't want significance? 28 April 2016
By Amazon Customer - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
My enjoyment of this series declined with each book. They are all fast paced and easy to read. The first supposed that you knew something about the socio-political setting that was established in the author's comic strip. Enough background was dropped in here and there so you could piece it all together on the fly. The characters were interesting enough that you wanted to see how they deal with things. The second book introduced some new characters and slightly developed the existing ones. The arc of the story was interesting until the deus ex machina ending. Hope for better in the third book was misplaced. The mystery in this story does get to "who dun it" and how it was dun but now why it was dun. The object turns out to be a mcguffin. The third story ends with teasers for further books.
Wait until the author gets to a third act - and gives us an ending - then buy and read these books.

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