Dead Sky – Weston Ochse (Solaris)

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Life, according to the philosophically minded, is all about the little things. Those moments that happen between the soul crushing and heart-warming events that are supposed to define and shape our existence are, more often than not, the episodes that we apparently choose to remember and focus on. Weston Ochse doesn’t subscribe to that school of thought and doesn’t write about those quiet moments. He paints literary canvases that detail devastating and ruinous world ending scenarios and the individuals who stand in harm’s way to prevent them happening. He tells stories about gods and monsters and the men and women who thwart their ancient ambitions through sacrifice and charts their success with pain and blood.  And every time he puts pen to paper, he ups the ante a little more and turns the adrenaline dial up another notch.

Dead Sky, the sequel to Burning Sky, finds the trio of Boy Scout, McQueen and Preacher’s Daughter, a team of military operators, desperately trying to recover from, and deal with the effects of, their last mission to Afghanistan.  It’s an impossible task, as their team leader, Boy Scout, brought more than he bargained for back with him and as he struggles to free himself from the malign influence of the travellers that now share his mind and being, he and his comrades in arms discover that the fate of every living being on Earth rests in their hands as demons, entities and a trio of battle hardened mercenaries fight to save humanity, and the future, from extinction.

In the right hands, genre fiction can be a life changing experience and Weston Ochse is that right pair of hands. With an innate gift for intelligent, imaginative and creative story- telling and a literary prowess and way with words that would make even the most revered authors of established and acknowledged classics seethe with jealousy, Ochse treats genre fiction with a rare veneration and his dedication to his craft and the characters he breathes life into, is staggering. As much an exploration of identity, individuality and the way we view the idea of self and our place in the pantheon of life as it is a rip roaring adventure fuelled by gun play, intense action and a page turning, pulse pounding plot Dead Sky serves as an affirmation of what I’ve telling anyone who’ll listen for the last five years. That Weston Ochse is one of the greatest living practitioners of his chosen craft and that everybody should be reading his books. Yes, Dead Sky is a sequel and yes you really need to lose yourself in Burning Sky before you launch yourself headlong into its pages, but that doesn’t matter because you should already have either read Burning Sky or have it lined up and ready to go. Be ready though and make sure you’re prepared, because Ochse, more so than ever in Dead Sky, knows that most stories don’t end well for those involved. They go where they need to go and they need to end satisfactorily, but they don’t need a happily ever after.  Bravo Mr Ochse, bravo… Tim Cundle

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