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New Model Army Paperback – 15 Apr 2010

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (15 April 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575083611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575083615
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 640,352 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


[The] intellectual enfant terrible of British SF. He transforms what might have been a conventional war story into a series of investigations into the nature of democracy, love, war and, ultimately, revolution. Frequently revelatory. (Eric Brown THE GUARDIAN)

At times, New Model Army is a challenging novel, but rise to the task and you'll find it a revelatory one. A short, sharp shock of a narrative: masterfully composed, rich in ideas and dangerously daring. Adam Roberts is truly a giant of British speculative fiction. From Yellow Blue Tibia to this, one can only wonder, breathlessly, what glorious horrors the man might enact upon us next. (THE SPECULATIVE SCOTSMAN)

Related as a confessional piece, Roberts' intriguing and spectacular work is less a novel than a philosophical treatise. If that sounds like a turn-off, it certainly shouldn¿t be, for New Model Army is written in stunning prose that is often lyrical, if not poetic. (TOTAL SCI-FI)

Firefights and philosophy alike are couched in prose of unflagging pace. (James Lovegrove FINANCIAL TIMES)

This is a fantastic piece of contemporary writing: edgy, relevant and strangely moving. I highly recommend it to those who like to be challenged as well as entertained. (KAMVISION)

New Model Army is a remarkable novel, ostensibly following one soldier's narrative, it actually manages to engage the reader in a much deeper discussion about the human condition that is war. (British Fantasy Society)

Book Description

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

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Flyingscotsman on 26 May 2010
Format: Paperback
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 By C. Askew on 29 Dec. 2010
Format: Paperback
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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By Eileen Shaw TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 1 Jan. 2015
Format: Paperback
What if a truly democratic army existed? If, instead of hierarchical arrangements, what's known as the chain of command was dissolved into a highly technological method of deciding what comes next on the battlefield? Hard to imagine, isn't it? In this book it becomes a reality. Put aside the notions you might have of chaos brought down upon men fighting in the field, and the command system that has sent men to certain death in two world wars. In this book warfare is conducted quite differently. Men are their own medics, armed with the knowledge of how to treat wounds etc. They are responsible for their own logistics, their own weaponry, they can choose when to attack, bearing on what is actually happening on the field of battle and not on some notions of a General far from the action. They have the technological communications systems to make decisions truly democratic.

This is a truly wonderful book. But it carries within its pages several contradictory notions. What are men doing when they are fighting? Is it really somehow related, if not conditional upon, the notion of play? This is just one of the ideas broached and personified in this book. It seems to presage Game Theory, though not by that name. It explores different methods of conducting warfare, and it is excruciatingly marvellous.

Some time in the not so distant future, Britain is plagued by warring sides. On one side is the conventional army, hierarchical, and hidebound with notions of "orders" and obeying them, and on the other side is the New Model Army. Now who would win in such a battle? Men who are fighting the reality, those tied down to a kind of slavery, who must obey orders with no input into the methods they can use or the battle sequences they can invent?
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