Orion Arm is the second book in the Rampart Worlds Trilogy, a fun, witty, colorful space opera detective adventure set 200 years in the future. It continues the story of a disenfranchised former cop framed by big business to keep him from uncovering their corruption.
Orion Arm continues the Julian May tradition of creating worlds described with vibrant adjectives that make her worlds a feast for all five senses. Her prose is perhaps unmatched in science fiction, and it is a joy just to read her works to see how she puts together her sentences.
Orion Arm continues in the vein of sort of goofy, tongue-in-cheek action adventure and humorous cynicism from rough-around-the-edges protagonist Asa Frost. The plot thickens, becomes at once more serious and complex than in the first book. The first one was definitely more fun than adventure-- this book adds just a bit of suspense, making it more enjoyable. Much of the new tension comes from the shifting of emphasis from evil megacorprorations to a xenophobic alien race with ulterior designs on our galaxies-- it sets up the action for book 3.
All in all, I enjoyed this book a tad bit more than the first, but still rate this series slightly behind May's earlier works. Unlike Pliocene Exile Series, where I found myself admiring May for her ability to let us come to know even secondary and tertiary characters, this series' supporting characters were somewhat superficial. Oh, compared to most sci-fi, Ms. May's characters are all vivid and deep, but compared to her own unusually high standards-- this falls just a bit short. Still, entertaining, imaginative a good read.