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Bookworm 2012: Piles to Branches

Posted on | December 15, 2012 | 1 Comment

Adam Roberts - New Model ArmyThe majority of the negative reviews for New Model Army by Adam Roberts seem to be focused on the apparent implausibility of the scenario he proffers. However, it would seem that those complaining are unaware of the origin of the title, of the real, historical New Model Army and the way it differed from the other armies of its time and place. The point of this novel about a radical rethinking of the hierarchical military model into a highly networked democratic, guerilla-like mesh that can be remodeled as and when circumstances require, is not the nitty-gritty specifics of each individual case of small-scale combat depicted in the book – the author is not a soldier and his depictions of what a battle is like are likely second hand at best – the point is in examining ways in which the traditional dictatorial nature of a military force might evolve or devolve if it were to adopt the basic tenets of the supposedly democratic societies they are supposed to defend.

The thing is, this type of pyramid-to-mesh conceptual transformation has permeated a number of technical, scientific, social, cultural and political environments during the past several decades, as evidenced by the rise of various multidimensional mesh network models and the discarding of rigid hierarchies, and as described in numerous and sometimes superfluous analyses such as the (in)famous Cyborg Manifesto. Furthermore, massively decentralized networks are precisely the perfect breeding ground for emergent phenomena, making the somewhat haphazard ending that many had problems with entirely plausible and believable, though stretched a bit far, but still, for me, not at all confusing. All this made New Model Army easily one of the finest works of military sci-fi I have read, not only because of the, frankly, exciting depictions of more-or-less futuristic combat, but also because it shows different models of combat, different models of militaries, and most of all, different modes of thinking.

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  • Goodreads

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
    From Eternity to Here: The Quest for the Ultimate Theory of Time
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