Friday, 1 September 2000

Julian May: Orion Arm (1999)

Edition: HarperCollins, 1999
Review number: 595

At its beginning, Orion Arm reads as though it will just be a repeat of the first of the Rampart Worlds series, Perseus Spur. Having resigned once again from the family corporation after a row with his father and sister, Asahel Frost returns to the Caribbean-style world of Kile-Lockaby, back to his small business as a diving safari guide. There, once again, he just manages to escape a murder attempt prompted by the firm of Galapharm which is out to take over Rampart Starcorp. To this point, the plot is almost identical to that of the first half of Perseus Spur, and there continue to be similarities until near the end.

That the two novels share a lot of their plots is not really a critical problem; I think Orion Arm is intended to be a repetition of Perseus Spur at a heightened level of intensity. Like the earlier novel, it is a classy thriller with a science fiction background. It is much longer, and yet the excitement doesn't flag - a sign of a well written thriller. The way things are left, there should be at least one more Rampart Worlds novel, and I will expect another enjoyable read even if not innovative science fiction.

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