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New Model Army Paperback – April 15, 2010

9 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


"The brilliantly detailed concept is balanced by terrific action scenes in the 'suburban catastrophe' style of H. G. Wells or J. G. Ballard."  —Scotsman on Sunday

"Should have won the 2009 Booker Prize."  —Kim Stanley Robinson, author, Red Mars, on Yellow Blue Tibia

About the Author

Adam Roberts is a novelist whose titles include, GradisilSalt, Swiftly, and Yellow Blue Tibia. His work has been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award and the Philip K. Dick Award and selected for The Year's Best Science Fiction: Twenty-Seventh Annual Collection. He also writes parodies, including Doctor Whom: E.T. Shoots and Leaves, The Sellamillion, and The Va Dinci Cod.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 282 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz (April 15, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575083611
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575083615
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.1 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (9 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,015,294 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dick Johnson VINE VOICE on July 15, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
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!

Roberts has given us an army of one multiplied by how ever many happen to be around. Each is involved in doing what needs done, and is trained well enough to be able to do many jobs well, if not perfectly. The hierarchy is not eliminated, it is not needed in the first place. Being wirelessly "wired in" to one another and making use of real time electronic systems lets this army be mobile, organized, and effective.

"Take me to your leader" has no meaning when talking with a member of the NMA. Instead, there is a "democracy" in play that makes both no one and everyone a "leader". One of the more fascinating premises of the book is the willingness of all to make immediate compromises - and act in a professional manner when the compromise went against a particular soldier's desire.

There have been some "armies" that operated in similar fashion to that invented by Roberts. The actions of guerrilla forces often act in an independent fashion tactically, even though the overall strategy is set by a formal leadership.

I was fascinated by the concept Roberts proposed and while it is appealing, I'm still trying to come to grips with the practical application, given egos and ambition that are such a large part of human nature. This was well worth the time and, though there are some disjoints, the mental exercise was fun.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Diziet on March 24, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is the first Adam Roberts book I have read. And I have to say that I don't understand how I could have missed such a wonderful author for so long.

I notice that when a sci-fi book is particularly successful, it is no longer referred to as sci-fi but often as the rather more upmarket 'speculative fiction'. Well, it doesn't really matter, but it falls into a fairly well-developed branch of sci-fi, along with books such as Ken MacLeod's 'The Star Fraction', possibly Neal Stephenson's 'Zodiac' - politically motivated, near-future, high-tech and web-enabled.

Politically, the book harks back to Roberts' first novel 'Salt', with a strictly non-hierarchical anarchistic 'People's Army' running rings around the conventional forces. It is set in a similar future period and geography as Ken MacLeod's 'The Star Fraction', and the supporting tech is clearly one possible extrapolation of the World Wide Web, smart phones, peer-to-peer networking. Whether it is a truly realistic extrapolation and whether this libertarian army could actually function feels less important than the air of optimism, of hope in an alternative future that the novel somehow brings. Again, for me, a very similar experience to 'The Star Fraction'.

However, it is darker and far more realistically human than Ken MacLeod's first novel. I found the central character wholly believable, wholly sympathetic, someone I ended up really caring about.
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By Just Another on December 16, 2012
Format: Paperback
What if an army were run like an open source software development project?
Those in software development know that you get more done with fewer people if you allow the group to be self organizing (the SCRUM variant of the Agile development idea), just as democracy is more efficient than communism because more minds are trying to independently find the best way to fill their role rather than being told how to.
Everyone works independently, but everyone votes as a true democracy.
What would be the logical conclusion?
What growing pains would this organization/organism go through along the way?

This book is thought provoking, but not the easiest to read. It follows the premise in the first line of this review to see where it leads to the pivotal change in the world, but certainly not to it's ultimate conclusion. It's probably a bit over simplified since it makes a somewhat naive assumption as it shows their debate and vote as a democracy, but fails to show that in the real world some people would disagree strongly enough to simple walk out and leave the organization or actively fight it from within.

The writing is a bit disjoint in places. Some would point out that the situation would lead to disjoint thinking, while others would suggest the point could have been made with a text more easy to read. Regardless of this, the thought provoking nature of this book makes it worth your while to read through it.
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By Nigel Farquharson on January 30, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Adam Roberts is a British writer and this is the only book from him I've read so far.
New Model Army is a very original and interesting and a little crazy near future military science fiction novel. It is written from the point of view of a soldier of a new type of always online democratic (sort of) army supposedly built under the same egalitarian concepts as the Wikipedia. It is a very crazy idea but Mr. Roberts develops it intelligently and makes it (almost) credible. It is also a very bleak narrative of the end of civilization as we know it; its destruction produced, or accelerated, by the world-wide proliferation of these type of armies, which are voluntary, cheap, easy to assemble, and also easy to dis-assemble and get its members all online, all connected all the time, but at the same time untraceable in the middle of any city, anywhere in the world. Scary but plausible and well written.
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