From the author of Girl on the Moon and the upcoming sequel, Girl on Mars, comes this standalone novel about humankind's next great adventure.
Billionaire Frank Ebersole believes Pauper, Earth's smaller moon, is the source of magic—the power magickers draw from to perform their supernatural feats. He wants to find the magic "generator" there and exploit it, making him the most powerful man on Earth.
To do it he'll put together an expedition to the tiny moon, with a crew chosen from the general population: an administrative assistant with a big heart, a plucky magicker with her own agenda, a quiet teenage girl, and Frank's own "body man."
Together they’ll have to survive demanding, accelerated training. Their voyage will be fraught with danger and heartbreaking loss. Some of them may not make it home. Will they learn Pauper’s secret? And will it save them, or kill them?
Jack McDonald Burnett is an attorney living in the Atlanta metro area. His short fiction is available at his website, scifijack.com. His nonfiction work has been published in a range of venues, from Economic Opportunity Report to American Builders Quarterly to Puck Daddy. His novels Girl on the Moon, Pauper, and Girl on Mars are available in the Kindle Store.
Pauper by Jack McDonald Burnett is a well thought out book with a wonderful cast of characters and terrific complex plot. I love books with magic and what fun would it be to have 2 moons? I don't think I would like the social structure he lays out in this world but it is intriguing for the story. Great book and kept me interested all the way through. Lots of craziness and thought provoking ideas in here, glad they are not in real life. Maybe they are to some degree.
Burnett's Girl on the Moon was a tour-de-force of hard science fiction. This novel, while still set in Burnett's wheelhouse (private enterprise funding space exploration, US returning to the moon, first woman on the moon), takes a large step away from hard scifi. There are two moons orbiting Earth, you see. Luna has been explored, although the final expedition was a while ago. The second moon, Pauper, arrived in Earth's skies shortly after the Fall of Constantinople. Smaller than Luna, it shows clearly as an orb. That kick-started science and global exploration earlier than in our world.
And coincidentally with Pauper's arrival, magic came to Earth.
This alternative Earth boasts a US that does not include the southern Confederation states, the separate nation of Florida, nor the territory of the Lousiana Purchase. Mexico (which includes southern California and the four-corners states) and Texas are slave-holding regimes. The Canadian expanse with the northern half of the continent's west coast and Snake River Plain is occupied by the "First Nations." US citizens need a passport to travel to Texas or Florida.
Most politicians are "magikers" because, according to one character, "that's how they can convince people to vote for them." And no astronauts are. The reason is complex: there had been a theory that Luna was the source of magic, but that "disturbing" it by setting foot on Luna's surface would bring magic to an end. That there are still magikers about, after multiple moon-landings, does not negate this theory. Proponents simply point to the decline of magical power in the world since then.
Billionaire Frank Ebersole doesn't believe the Luna-source theory. He thinks Pauper is the source of magic, and to prove it, he puts together a carefully-designed expedition to the smaller moon. His group of "layman astronauts" includes, among others, a woman from the French Midwest L'Empire, an Amerindian US citizen who qualifies to emigrate to Canada, a teenage girl whose family were refugees from the slave-holders in Arizona, and his "bodyman" Garrett.
It also includes, unknown to the others, a magiker whose goal it is to sabotage the mission, lest setting foot on Pauper bring about the feared end to magic.
Ebersole will have to coax, cajole, bully, manipulate and sometimes, outright lie to his crew to bring about his goal. And he may have to extend his efforts to the wider world, because someone in the US government is determined to stop him.
Politics, Garrett thought. Like a food fight without the internal logic.
This was a satisfyingly complex novel, with very human characters. People who have public goals, and private ones that are not always the same. People who are jealous or noble or self-serving, who make mistakes and then struggle mightily to right them again. People who lose or succeed by taking action. People who are petty or generous, methodical or impulsive by turns. And an overall focus on the truly possible, despite the single extra non-science element of the tale.
In short, it was everything I have come to expect from Burnett. That it was a Kindle Scout selection which I nominated, and therefore received a copy for free, was an additional benefit.
I would have happily paid full price. Burnett is now on my "buy anything he writes" list.
In a world where Earth has two moons, an eccentric rich man puts together a team of strangers, trained them to be astronauts, and launched them into space. With the smaller moon, Pauper, as their destination, the trip soon became freighted with unfulfilled ambition, jealousy, and vengeance. Why? Because Pauper is the alleged source of all magic. Tragedies strike one after the other and the survivors are left to deal with the aftermath.
This book made me think “what would happen if” a second moon existed. The story flowed from one character to the next in an organic way so that I had to keep turning the pages.
Another fine book from Kindle Scout.
Maggie Toussaint and Rigel Carson for Muddy Rose Reviews
Unfortunately, this was very slow. I struggled, and struggled some more, then gave up. I don't give up very often as I am a stubborn person, but this beat me into submission.
I had to read quite a number of sentences three or four times to try to make some sense of them. I'm at a loss to understand why this is as I am very good at reading accents and dialects, and I have been reading US books all my life.
There wasn't a single character that I was interested in finding out what happened to them. This concept had so much potential, and I was really looking forward to reading this book. Sorry.
I received a free ecopy of this via Kindle Scout, and this is an honest review.
This one was hard to write. I actually enjoyed reading it for a while and thought it would be a five out of five but, somewhere around the middle, I realised it was more that I was thinking about what could happen versus what was actually happening. The story hit one note and sort of hung there with the promise of something big happening and then it didn’t.
I will admit the slow pace actually wasn’t a big deal for me to start, but it did become one as I got further in. The little spurts of action were fine and the character foundations were laid well. You knew who and what everyone was about. After that, I was on such a high to get to the end and see where it was going that I kinda glossed over the fact that this was it. The characters kept cycling through the same emotions without actually hitting some sort of goal. This, of course, put me back in this state of enjoying what I perceived would happen and constantly waiting to see if I was right and then I was neither right nor wrong. No one seemed to come out worse or better in the end. Just the same, exactly the same as they were when they went in. This was mostly the ending’s fault.
The a-hah or the big finale that is the end of this book literally undoes everything. It read as if the author just wanted you to think ‘what if’ and that, that was the only purpose. This became problematic because now what was the point of reading any of the other stuff with this ending? No tragedy, no learning curve, no vindication no… win, just ‘oh… okay’. I literally read that last sentence of I believe the second to last chapter and thought ‘no the author didn’t’. The next page will totally not be what I think it is and, yes. It sure was what I thought it would be. This unfortunately also made me realise that all of the character arcs I was expecting only lived in my mind. They definitely weren’t going to happen. Not with this ending.
There’s only one way I can really explain this. This book was very cleverly crafted, everything happened when it should, and that was it. Hit all the right notes of a good story without becoming amazing, Like that cake that’s perfect out the oven but the more time you have to consider its excellence the more it folds in on itself and your experience becomes less amazing. It’s the almost perfect cookie. Smells delicious, looks amazing, taste good too, but then you take a bite of the cookie beside it that doesn’t look so perfect but is by far the tastier, better cookie. This book, in my opinion, is what happens when things are laid out just a little bit too well causing the characters to stay in one place without building upon that foundation into the nuances needed for them to evolve.
No one's ‘why’ for going on this mission stuck. Even before the ending, the author managed to undo most characters original intentions for going accept for the architect of the mission. Because of this I couldn’t really attach to them and relied solely, like I’ve said, on this hope there’d be some epiphany at the end for the cast and also put full faith in the plot doing the same. Both of which didn’t deliver. So the story ended up like the cake and cookie above. The more time I had to think about it as I read the less amazing it felt under scrutiny, this was part of why the slow pace ultimately went from not being an issue to becoming one. Too much time to actually think about this book.
I still did not understand the history of this book. How the years are calculated. I get that it’s like earth but not, but that isn’t enough. I kept trying to figure it out based on the vague details. How magic came, and all sorts of things and it was hard to really get into this world when I simply couldn’t guesstimate what time it was with the details given about the politics, wars, and events that happened in this alternate earth.
The ending sealed the fate of this book. Emotionally it was a letdown cause the characters didn't have decent arcs, and technically it made the rest of the book appear as if the author was trying to be profound with a ‘what if’ in relation to the readers’ version of earth. Instead, it felt like the easy way out rather than digging in for something grittier. The only 'what if' I was thinking is what if all this story and plot hadn’t been undone with this one sentence. Then maybe some deeper and a better resolution of all the set-up would’ve lifted this book into something more spectacular instead of leaving one with that sense of ‘okay. That was interesting I guess.’ It’s just a shame there wasn’t something bigger or more interesting to be had here cause this ending was probably as easy as they come when considering it doesn’t have to deal at all with the mess leading up to it. It was like the end to the movie Sphere except with Sphere life moved on from a certain point and none of the stuff before the end was magically undone, only the memory of it was.
The more I think about this story the more I realise that after the opening which I loved almost everything about it just grinds my gears and I honestly, as you probably can tell from this review, only kept reading in hopes of finding what this opening provided but the rest of the book did not live up to the promise. It gets three stars for being well written but beyond that, there was a whole lot of negative emotions involved in reading this that the ending left completely unresolved.
A billionaire businessman plans a space mission to Earth's second moon, the supposed source of magic.
I had trouble determining how to label this book. It a lot of ways, it is alternative history. But to me an alternative history story is one that could have happened if some point in history was a little different. For example, if the south won the Civil War. But the point that is differnt in this story is that Earth gains a second moon which creates magical powers with some people. There are alot of similarities between this Earth and ours, but there are some huge differences as well. Magic is one of those differences. But it isn't waving wands and chanting spells. In fact, it is more like self improvement visualization. The magic was never clearly explained but I guess the best I can describe it was more psychic power than spellweaving. I would have liked a better explanation for such a strong element in the story.
The characters were well developed and the story flowed at a steady pace with enough action to keep the reader turning pages. It was a nice introduction to the author's writing style.
I received a free copy in exchange for an honest review through the Kindle Scout program.
When magic creates and recreates reality there's no telling what we might get. From its beginning of this book, we know that we're on Earth, third planet from the sun (I assume since Mercury and Venus weren't mentioned) but the countries aren't laid out right and its history isn't familiar. So we keep reading to figure out why and there is no explanation until near the end, and then we get three different versions of Earth right in a row. And it's all because of a magic second moon, Pauper. Much of the story concerns the training of a team of unlikely astronauts and getting to know the characters in the team. Once they launch to land on Pauper the pace picks up, and by their second trip, everything moves quickly. Big changes happen quickly, including the way the reader's mind gets jerked around. It had to happen, but it didn't happen in any way I expected. It was very surprising and pleasant in the way good sci-fi can be. I realize this is probably a murky review, but I don't want to give anything away. It's a fair sized book and I read it in a day because I didn't want to put it down. It's not up to the author's "Girl on the Moon" books. But hardly anything is.
The book starts out rather slow while it defines the people and the world they live in. Once the characters arrive on the moon Pauper, however, it picks up. As it continues to unfold, it gets rather bizarre and unexpected. But, that's all in the nature of "magic," which is at the forefront of what this story is about. My advice to readers is, "Don't give up." The story will be worth reading through.
My experience of books I have won via Kindle Scout campaigns has been hit and miss so far (partly because I am sure I should actually pay more attention to what I’m voting for!). Yet I was highly impressed by this book. It’s a sort of “what if?” tale: what if there was a viable magic source? What if that source was a second moon? How would that change humanity and relative scientific advancements? What about religion? What about different nations, countries, and the diplomacy between them? Then what would happen if mankind attempted to visit and exploit this magic source…? By throwing in an exploitable energy source/manipulator, you have a world that is at times quite similar to ours but, through the use and limited talent to control “magic”, also radically different.
I enjoyed the mix of familiar and unfamiliar, which gave the whole story a “parallel universe” as much as an “alternate history” feel. The author says himself in the endnotes that he used familiar parallels to allow the reader to anchor into the story quite easily and, for me, it certainly worked!
There was a good deal of action and adventure throughout, with not everything running smoothly, despite the obvious advantage to some in their ability to use magic. Although, due to the way the story is narrated, it isn’t possible to get a real feel or an idea of the separate identities of each of the characters until towards the last third of the book. The beginning was slow, requiring quite a bit of concentration, to not only understand the alternate world due to the details being revealed slowly (very good that, actually, waiting for context), but also to get my feet inside the story itself and be able to relate to the setting and characters. The last ten percent feels crazy and chaotic and I said to myself, ‘how can all the major whacky action be happening here, when there’s not many pages left to go?’ The lead up to that after where, perhaps, the book could have ended rather disappointingly, was a slow rumble. The ending itself is like smoke clearing after waking from a bad dream, with more relief than disappointment. Although that, in itself, leaves unanswered questions if you want to look hard enough.
Considering all this, I’m unsure how to rate this. I guess, though, considering I have only good memories the morning after and I only really got bored in a couple of places, and not for long, I am going to be quite generous, especially as I will definitely consider a reread, if I ever find the time!
Final rating: ★★★★★ – Loved it/couldn't put it down
The pacing was good, but the writing felt too much like reading someone's journal. It was just a listing of events which made it hard to feel immersed in the story. I did enjoy the story though, up until to the end. It felt like an easy way out. I can see this ending made to work, but not with this dry writing style. All in all, an enjoyable story with good potential, but not my choice of author to write it.