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New Model Army Paperback – 15 Apr 2010

3.6 out of 5 stars 34 customer reviews

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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: 15.6 x 2.5 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (34 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 847,059 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Top Customer Reviews

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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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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Format: Paperback
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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