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 world's 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 UK's most exciting and innovative literary voices working at the height of his powers and investing SF with literary significance that is its due.
Previously published in the U.K. to critical praise, Roberts's new dystopia is set in a United Kingdom dissolving into civil disorder thanks to Celtic nationalism and a new military approach that has made it possible for small, democratically run military units to defeat much larger, better-funded armies. A unit called Pantregral, an innovative but inherently destructive social organism, wreaks havoc and then evolves into a sophisticated new state. Before digressing into soap opera midway through the story, Roberts (Yellow Blue Tibia) makes this ludicrous thesis appear possible, at least as long as the reader never considers issues of logistics or the downsides of soldiers acting as one another's untrained field medics. Roberts's hand-waving has its charm, and while the sudden transformation at the end of the book is not as dramatic as it might have been, it provides a functional-enough ending to this fast-paced, implausible tale.