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New Model Army [Hardcover]

Adam Roberts
3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)

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Book Description

15 April 2010

Adam Roberts' new novel is a terrifying vision of a near future war - a civil war that tears the UK apart as new technologies allow the worlds first truly democratic army to take on the British army and wrest control from the powers that be.

Taking advances in modern communication and the new eagerness for power from the bottom upwards Adam Roberts has produced a novel that is at once an exciting war novel and a philosophical examination of war and democracy.

It shows one of the UKs most exciting and innovative literary voices working at the height of his powers and investing SF with literary significance that is its due.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575083603
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575083608
  • Product Dimensions: 2.6 x 15.3 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (31 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,100,287 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Adam Roberts is a writer of science fiction novels and stories, as well as Professor of Nineteenth-century Literature in English at Royal Holloway, University of London. Three of his novels, "Salt", "Gradisil" and "Yellow Blue Tibia" were nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award; and his most recent novel "By Light Alone" has been shortlisted for the 2012 BSFA Award. He has published over a dozen novels, a number of academic works on both 19th century poetry and SF, stories, parodies, bits, pieces, this and that.

Product Description


"Should have won the 2009 Booker Prize." --Kim Stanley Robinson, author, "Red Mars", on "Yellow Blue Tibia" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

A nightmarish vision of future war from a literary master of SF.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A fine piece of philosophical fiction 26 May 2010
The majority of modern or near future war fiction is set far away, in Afghanistan or China or Russia, and it's somewhat refreshing to find an author who is willing to bring home the fight to, of all places, the M4 corridor, that bastion of the middle class. There's something compelling and vaguely disturbing about imagining a firefight in the centre of Maidenhead. As actually pointed to within the book, there are strong hints of War of the Worlds hidden within this little gem, a hopelessly outmoded regular army repeatedly forced back by a more technologically advanced foe, leaving familiar and deserted territory behind them.

The New Model Army, the quasi-sentient protagonist of the piece, is the ultimate expression of what the Americans like to call Network Centric Warfare. They are a geographically dispersed force of mercenaries, all sharing information, all aware of each other and their surroundings, and all armed to the teeth. A way to think of them would be perhaps to imagine a fusion of the mercenaries of the 1960s with the community from EVE online. They are an army of armchair experts, pooling the collective knowledge of the crowd and applying it to the pursuit of warfare in a totally democratic manner, by a majority vote. By conducting their warfare in this way, and only striking where they know they are strong, they are able to repeatedly inflict tremendous losses on the defending British Army, still relying on the chain of command, and on rigid military doctrine.

It's a not unrealistic development of the direction that most modern armies are beginning to take, and it serves to present the narrator of the piece, a soldier within the army, with a way of exploring the nature or war, love and the human relationship with democracy.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars First section, brilliant. But then... 29 Dec 2010
A short and punchy piece of speculative fiction which imagines the British Isles of 2030, divided into warring factions and dominated by new model armies fighting an increasingly ineffective and outdated British Army. Roberts closely examines the concept of ultimate democracy, and speculates as to whether it is a driving force that develops smart, strong social groups, or a destructive ideal that bypasses any sense of collective morality. The book also looks at everyday modern technologies like Google maps and wikis, and speculates as to how they could be adapted and used not only to build micro-societies that function successfully as ultimate democracies, but also how they could be used tactically within the context of modern warfare. A third major theme is that of love and trust -- Roberts examines the relationships that form between soldiers engaged in combat together, constantly attempting to define the connection that is formed by individuals within the context of war. All in all it is a surprisingly complex novel, and an enjoyable read. Unfortunately, Roberts has rather failed to balance the necessary confines of the book's genre with its literary aspirations -- the short final section, which attempts a homage to Hobbes' 'Leviathan', feels pretentious and confusing and does not draw the novel to any kind of satisfying conclusion. Far better is the confident first section, in which Roberts sets the scene, vividly and imaginatively depicts scenes of combat and introduces his carefully-drawn narrator, Tony Block. Although Roberts' predictions for a possible near-future are fascinating and well thought out, he fails to effectively resolve any of them -- in fact, the novel seems to spiral out of control and eventually just 'stops', rather than having any kind of real ending. An engaging read filled with a lot of interesting ideas, but due to its frustrating elements, not a book I'd pick up again
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting but ultimately unsatisfying.. 25 Dec 2010
Format:Kindle Edition
A clever idea, albeit with a number of obvious flaws that other reviewers have pointed out. Roberts writes well, and he is able to present strong characters and a convincing plot, obvious holes notwithstanding. What ultimately lets this book down is the ending. Magical realism, flights of fancy, call it what you will, but I felt it struck the wrong note, jarring with the rest of the book and leaving me feeling unsatisfied. I enjoyed the first two-thirds of this book, but I'm not sure I'd seek out any more of his work.
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16 of 21 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Anarchist Starship Troopers 13 Feb 2011
One star would have been too harsh so I gave it two because the writing does flow nicely, and I'm sure the author meant well. I struggled to finish this novel however due to the severe strain on my credulity.

The novel begins by explaining and then showing how an anarchist, net-savvy army could trump a conventional 'feudal authoritarian' army on any given day of the week.
Like uneven paving slabs on a pavement however the sheer number of wilful errors kept tripping me up as I read through it: like the two tanks that get their turrets blown off without killing the rest of the crew inside; the supposed uselessness of air power in an urban setting, and the regular army troops who, like German army extras in a B war movie, are unintelligent (not cool enough for the net age obviously), lacking in initiative and are apt to concentrate in tight groups or advance in line like napoleonic troopers.
The regular army in this setting is obviously a strawman for the more flexible NMA which relies exclusively on internet comms that, for some reason, is never hacked, jammed or simply watched for intel gathering on what tactics the 'free soldiers' are going to vote on next.
With so much literature out there on what actual war and war technology is like it takes a special kind of ignorance to portray this as any kind of realistic example of war. Al-Qaeda too makes use of the internet and is stateless, but when they put soldiers into the field they get shredded by regular troops, and while they are indeed ghost-like they have proven incapable of bringing down even weak regimes. In conclusion - harmful, but not giants.

Still, perhaps the actual war bit is not important in this novel. Nor the bland characterisation.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 1 month ago by Desha
5.0 out of 5 stars Groundbreaking, But Needs To Be Read Twice
The book posits the social and technology changes in Western societies undermining their top-down structures. Read more
Published 3 months ago by JPMT
2.0 out of 5 stars A book of three faces..
This book immediately gripped me with it's fascinating conceit of the 'democratic' fighting force enabled by modern technology, and to start with it was a real page burner. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Matt Weyland
2.0 out of 5 stars Great Concept, Poor Execution
It has a Fab Concept. However it doesn't quite work. Some of it is too heavy handed and not well enough researched to be credible. Read more
Published 13 months ago by James Kemp
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Some clever ideas and fast plot gives what is at heart a book about political ideas much more readable. Read more
Published 15 months ago by MR. D. P. Galea
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing
I just about finished this book and it took a while. It was more of a mission than a pleasure. It does not start too well and then I became irritated at the authors need to use... Read more
Published 23 months ago by ReaderZ
4.0 out of 5 stars Thought provoking
Based on a world that is not that unlikely. You only have to consider the modern phenomena of Anonymous, the occupy movement, the recent riots in the UK, and 'flash mobs' to... Read more
Published on 22 July 2012 by Andrew Holt
5.0 out of 5 stars The ultimate committee?
All vote; all put the result of the vote into action; all work together to create a favorable ending to the endeavor; repeat until ultimate goal is met. What a system! Read more
Published on 15 July 2012 by Dick Johnson
3.0 out of 5 stars Great for two-thirds, then totally lost it.
This book seemed to have such great promise when I first started reading it and by the end I was totally confused and lost. My advice - DON'T WASTE YOUR MONEY.
Published on 4 Nov 2011 by Mr. P. Reeder
2.0 out of 5 stars Solidly written, laughable premise
Adam Roberts writes solidly and enjoyably. The premise that the book is based upon is laughable. SPOILER SPOILER. Read more
Published on 5 Oct 2011 by Dust
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