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Explorers Of The New Century

3.64  ·  Rating Details ·  502 Ratings  ·  40 Reviews
It is the beginning of the century, and two teams of explorers are racing across a cold, windswept, deserted land to reach the furthest point from civilisation. This is, they find, 'an awfully long way'.
Published September 1st 2006 by Bloomsbury UK (first published September 5th 2005)
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Perry Whitford
Mar 12, 2012 Perry Whitford rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Arch Humorists.
What a sly little book this is!

On the face of it a rather old fashioned tale of The Gentlemen vs The Players, as two bands of explorers race each other to an "Agreed Furthest Point" of undiscovered wilderness, much as Scott and Amundsen had competed to reach the South Pole in the early years of the 20th century.

The imaginary British contingent here are typically amateur, consisting of willing yet naive "what oh!" volunteers, whilst the Scandinavian party is rigorously scientific, yet hierarchica
Christian Schwoerke
Apr 16, 2014 Christian Schwoerke rated it really liked it
This short novel has the power of parable, much like Kafka’s best stories, a la “The Hunger Artist”. And in this case, it’s disturbing and memorable, with just enough details to cause a certain amount of long-lasting queasiness, a la Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” or Kafka’s “Penal Colony.” I expect that even with time’s ability to erode the sharper edges of my already dull memory, the essential aspect of Explorers of the New Century—a hearty bravado masking an unconscious, supercilious racism— ...more
Isabel (kittiwake)
'Now is this rope quite secure at the other end?'
Thegn assured him that it was, and then Thorsson was asked to bring up the first mule from the camp at Lintel Rock. Meanwhile, Thegn was sent back along the ropeway with a secondary line. The moment Thorsson arrived with the mule, Snaebjorn seized it by one ear and forced it to the ground. Quickly it was trussed up and rendered immobile, then slung under the rope and hauled across the river. Guthrum had joined Thegn on the far bank and was charged
Mar 14, 2015 Ben rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Ben by: Chris Miles
Quite a funny little book: I mean that both in the sense of "haha" and also "a little bit odd." The story starts as familiar sort of exploration into unfamiliar lands and I was expecting it to largely continue in that vein.

Around half way things become a little different. It would spoil your enjoyment of the book to discuss the plot development in any degree of detail, but suffice it to say it's quite a fascinating and gradual change in direction.

My one complaint is the book is almost too short
Jason James
Sep 07, 2015 Jason James rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of those books, where you can find out about a person from their experience of it. Read a few of the reviews which have been posted, and you soon get a feel of the different personalities of the reviewers. Some can peel away the layers like an onion, whilst others see just a plain adventure yarn with a confusing and frustrating seam of fantasy. A truly clever book, I think you'll find what you're looking for, if you don't, then that's probably just as well, because it hints at a some ...more
Hugely disappointing. Like Magnus Mills doing a Magnus Mills impression. Badly. Akin to Chuck Palahniuk's fall from grace (though Pygmy was back to form).
May 19, 2016 Chrystal rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The description for this book is all wrong (on the book jacket as well). This is not at all about the age of Shackleton or Perry. This, like all MM's books, is a social satire. Time and place are never relevant in his books, and in fact, never mentioned. What matters is how people mindlessly go about their lives, usually because society has decided on how a scheme must be followed, whether it has any practical value or not (as in "The Maintenance of Headway" and "The Scheme for Full Employment") ...more
Jan 25, 2014 Anfenwick rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2014
I thought Explorers of the New Century was just going to be a satire on the subject of scientific expeditions. You know, the styles and levels of organization, the clash of personalities, the competitive machismo and posturing (or wholesome, manly attitudes, depending on your point of view), the arbitrary goal, with the elusive Agreed Furthest Point (from civilization) and the unspecified date and location underscoring the abstract nature of the story.

All that is there… except the goal… the goa
David Nelson
Sep 12, 2011 David Nelson rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It's a little hard to talk about this slim book without giving it all away; it might suffice to say that it's sorta-kinda about a Shackleton-esque race to the Agreed Furthest Point, but that's a lot like saying running a marathon is about transporting a pair of shoes 26 miles. Without tipping the plot or telegraphing a startling (and mind-bending) mid-novel reveal, I'll say this: Mills does an exemplary job of buttonhooking the reader into compassionately identifying with stand-ins for history's ...more
Jun 10, 2013 Chasquis rated it it was amazing
Take a soupçon of Dad's Army, a pinch of Star Trek and a massive dose of whaaaat???? and behold the novel for our shortening days, our latter years and our wandering minds. There is a clear picture to focus on here but the blasted horizon keeps shifting ever further away (and the scree.) This piece is about survival in a harsh and intemperate climate. Niggles there are but the spirit (stove) triumphs in the end. No spoilers should ever spoil this story, it is solid, a march in fiction towards th ...more
Jun 29, 2013 Veronica rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Veronica by: Nicola
Shelves: fiction
I don't get it. Well, yes, I can see what he's doing and the way the twist is revealed halfway through is very, very clever. I thought I'd figured out what the point of the expedition was, but I'd only grasped one aspect of it. The book didn't make me smile, and I definitely didn't laugh: the deadpan style is just too deadpan, the dialogue too flat and absurd.

For some reason it reminded me of Jose Saramago's Blindness, I suppose because of the dystopian bleakness and the flatness of the characte
Mr Buchanan
Oct 31, 2009 Mr Buchanan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having thoroughly enjoyed my previous Mills expeditions - Restraint of Beasts, Scheme for Full Employment - I was impressed by the way he has forged onward into new territory here. Opening as a pastiche of the Scott/Amundsen race to the pole, it will gradually dawn on the reader that something is rotten in this dark fictional landscape. Suffice to say that the truths eventually unleashed in its second half make Explorers a genuinely perturbing read, which will have you retracing your steps at jo ...more
Jun 08, 2013 Anna rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, hilarious, fable
I blazed through this magnificently deadpan little novel. At first it seems like straightforward exploration story, gently mocking the 'gentlemen explorers' of Victorian times. More than halfway through, though, certain hints come together and the reader realises just what sort of satire they're really reading. The revelation is brilliantly done, throwing new light on everything that went before. The gentility of the narrative suddenly appears transformed. Don't worry, I wouldn't be so cruel as ...more
A strange allegory. Modeled after Polar explorations of Shakelton, et al, two groups of explorers try to get "mules" to the AFP(Agreed Upon furthest Point), while traveling through a wateland, and each group trying to be the first to arrive at the AFP.

About midway through the book, you discover that the mules sing; a little further on you discover they have hands, and you realize that they are "people." This is an alternative universe which addresses differnces in humanity, by exiling the the a
Mar 25, 2011 Alex rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction-general
Some books are just plain weird and this is one such. For a start the reader really needs a preliminary knowledge of the Scott & Amundsen Antarctic expeditions of 1911/12 and the tensions and rivalries that existed both between and within the two polar parties to fully appreciate this playful pastiche of those events.
That said, I'm not entirely sure what the author's point was in writing it and the added twist in the closing chapters would lead me to suggest he should have added a touch mor
Gumble's Yard
Jan 04, 2017 Gumble's Yard rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016
Probably Mill’s weakest novel – a mix between a pastiche of the Scott/Amundsen race to the pole and a weak allegory of slavery/ethnic cleansing which never really works other than in suggesting how in two different societies (the well intentioned, but muddling “English” and the more efficient “Nordics”) society can organise itself around something abhorrent which nevertheless becomes an essential part of that society and one that they morally rationalise.
Sep 05, 2015 Henry rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Todd Stockslager
Odd short novel that starts out as a very spare telling of what appears to be a 19th-century polar expedition, but turns into an allegory, apparently of racism and slavery and how to deal with its aftermath.

The first of two books (see the review of David Masiel book The Western Limit of the World: A Novel) I picked based on the cover and the title, risking the old cliché; cliches have a core of truth.

This book left me more puzzled than disappointed.
Minder dan zijn eerdere boeken. Maar (!) kan ook zeker te maken hebben met het eigen verwachtingspatroon. Hier geen klagende arbeiders maar pratende ezels. Grinnik. Eigenlijk is Mills gewoon erg goed en grappig; een liefde voor het leven als zijn werk je aanspreekt. Maar in de boekhandel moeilijk tot onverkoopbaar.
Aug 03, 2012 Jen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
The surprise did not come as a surprise to me, but then again I read a lot of sci-fi. This was a fast read but I can't really recommend it. I would have loved a setting or a description of the characters, or a more satisfying conclusion; the book is 99% dialogue.
Kevin Shannon
curious little read, still trying to figure out the allrgorical meaning..If you like this sort of bbook may I recommend Replay by Ken Grimwood, similar in intent,, I think, not in story, but definitely in the category of books that make onr ponder.
Apr 04, 2011 Carolin rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
It took me ages to get into this but I enjoyed other Magnus Mills books and was reading this with a friend, so kept reading. About two thirds in it finally got my full attention and if was worth it. A good adventure (and more) story.
Nov 30, 2009 Jerome rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I thought the whole thing silly. If there was a point it missed me completely. The only reason I picked it up was because there was some reference comparing it to Franz Kafka, which I enjoy reading, on the flap. No such luck.
Dec 07, 2011 John rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011
There is a really unexpected twist a bit more than half way through the novel, which is revealed in quite a subtle and effective way. Turns out to be quite a bit different than you think, in a good way.
May 10, 2015 Val rated it it was amazing
A group of explorers set off to reach the point of inaccessibility. They have a lot of trouble with the mules carrying their baggage. This is part homage and part pastiche of Victorian and Edwardian exploration literature, and very funny.
Explorers of the New Century puts you amongst the action from the word go, which at first left me bewildered but as soon as I’d caught up with what was happening, this turned out to be almost as amusing as Magnus Mills’s genius of a novel, The Restraint of Beasts.
Nov 05, 2010 Caroline rated it really liked it
Amazing book: something happens halfway through - I can't tell you what, exactly, but "something" - which suddenly skews the whole novel thus far, and causes us to question things we've possibly taken for granted... Fantastic flight in folly too!
Oct 30, 2008 Scot rated it really liked it
Another strange one from Magnus Mills. Around two thirds of the way in the book shifts focus and wrong foots the reader. Again one is left feeling like you are reading about our own world but slightly out of focus. The future? The past? Parallel world somewhere?
Jan 06, 2009 Martin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started off a little unsure about this one but by the time things go a little "wha?!" halfway through it was a race to get to the end.
Katrina Tan
Apr 25, 2011 Katrina Tan rated it liked it
Mid-way through, you get a jolt.
But apart from that, this is a very odd book.
Very different from the wry, tongue-in-cheek approach in his other books.
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