Review: Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World by S. Elliot Brandis


About Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World

Meet the android with no name. Seventy years ago, he was freed: his permission chip was removed and a gun placed in his hand. He was sent to fight for his country.

It was the war that ended the world.

Now, America is a wasteland. Wild towns have emerged across the frontier, lawless places filled with drunks and opportunists. The android rides from town to town, collecting warrants and seeking justice. Life is violent and meaningless—full of blood, whiskey, and dust.

When he meets Sierra—a fiery southerner with a chip on her shoulder—they embark on an unlikely journey, a dangerous search for vengeance.

About the Author

S. Elliot Brandis is an engineer and author from Brisbane, Australia. He writes post-apocalyptic fiction, often infused with a variety of outside elements. He is a lover of beer, baseball, and science fiction.

His stories are about outlaws, outsiders, and the others.

To find out more:

Web: Facebook: Mailing List: email:

My Thoughts

Full disclosure - I know Elliot a bit from KBoards and Goodreads. I'd first heard about his idea to write a post-apocalyptic western with a gruff android at the forefront sometime ago, and had been salivating to read it ever since. I received a free copy of his latest through his newsletter. He's currently giving away Part I (this novella), and will be giving away Part II, as well, in the coming months. It would behoove you to sign up for his newsletter at ASAP.

All that said, I'd like to think that my familiarity with Elliot did not cause me to inflate my perceptions of how much I enjoyed Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World or prompt me to approach it with any undue bias.

The simple fact of the matter is, I freaking loved it. I loved the idea as soon as he told me about it, and after reading it, I love it even more.

The execution is terrific and his handling of the android in a western setting is adroit and even-handed. I was really thrilled with how well the high-tech science fiction aspect of his central character worked in the forsaken, dying Earth environment. This is a classical western story with some nifty, much-welcomed twists.

Once Upon A Time... is also a richly dark world. The author clues us in on the world's future-history, teasing out the information without sacrificing the story's quick pacing or bogging us down with overly long, dry lessons of background details. There was a war, and nukes and antimatter bombs decimated the world. Androids were enlisted into the military to fight the war on behalf of the humans, taking US drone policy to the next level. It's a smart way of bridging the two seemingly disparate genres of science fiction and western, but Brandis makes it work. Think of it as an old Eastwood spaghetti western flick by way of Firefly, but without the quirky humor or space travel.

In fact, there's not much to laugh at in Elliot's latest dystopian, with so much of the world bombed back into the hardscrabble living of two hundred-plus years past. Humanity has been stripped raw, and it seems like there's only two class of people left to fend for themselves: victims and potential victims. It's a stark, grim read, with a cast as dangerous as the desolate desert they inhabit.

While I can't help but think there's a good deal owed to Eastwood and Sergio Leone in terms of inspiration, there's also some pure Peckinpah at play here. This is The Wild Bunch by way of The Android With No Name. It's a bloody affair, right from the opening pages, where the android teaches an explicit lesson to an unlucky drunk on the difference between robots and androids. The scene is chillingly effective, and Elliot gets off to a fine start with his crazy genre hybrid.

Once Upon A Time At The End Of The World is the first in a four-part series of novellas, with the second due in December. Like I said earlier, do yourself a favor and sign-up for his newsletter. Not only will you get the first two parts of his post-apocalyptic western for free, but you'll also get to stay up to date on somebody that I believe is going to be a huge up-and-comer in the indie sci-fi/speculative fiction corner. Conversely, you can also buy the individual parts of this serial as they release, which is also a terrific way of supporting this author. Either way, S. Elliot Brandis is one to watch out for.

buy once upon a time at the end of the world at amazon

Michael Patrick Hicks

Michael Patrick Hicks is the author of the science fiction novels Convergence, an Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2013 Quarter-Finalist, and Emergence. His work has appeared in several anthologies, and he has written for the websites Graphic Novel Reporter and Audiobook Reviewer. In between compulsively buying books and adding titles that he does not have time for to his Netflix queue, he is hard at work on his next story.

Don't forget to hit Like and Share!

Follow my reviews on Amazon and Goodreads

If you enjoyed this post or others like it here, and would like to help keep this blog running,
you can support High Fever Books with a small Ko-Fi donation.