A Closed and Common Orbit is entirely standalone—unlike so many of the struggling sequels that insist on this—although a passing familiarity with the larger canvas of said series is sure to prove a plus ... it doubles down on the small, character-focused moments that made its predecessor such an unfettered pleasure, and in that respect, it’s no less of a success ... A Closed and Common Orbit may be smaller in scope than the book before it, but in its focus and its force, in the sheer delight it takes in the discoveries it documents, it’s as fine and as fantastical and as fun as Chambers’ absolute darling of a debut.
...includes many of the same things that made the first book such a success: a believably grimy hi-tech world, complex characters, varied alien species, and above all the sheer likability of the whole. It has the same weaknesses, too: a tendency for characters to pootle about rather than move the larger plot forward, and a slight sense of authorial thumb-in-the-balance when it comes to stressing the upsides, never the downsides, of cultural, sexual and inter-species diversity ... In the character of Sidra, Chambers has created a memorable addition to this gallery: a rational computer intellect who grows wonderfully into her emotional life. Warm, engaging, properly science-fictional, A Closed and Common Orbit is a very likable novel indeed.
...it’s those relationships where Chambers excels. She has a gift for creating alien biology, culture, and social mores with far more depth and complexity than anything Star Trek’s forehead-of-the-week makeup department could churn out ... A Closed And Common Orbit makes a radical move for a sequel, abandoning the first book’s leads entirely in favor of two minor characters: Lovelace, the ship’s sentient on-board computer, now in a human-like body, and Pepper, the engineer who put her there ... While most sequels feel the need to go bigger and bolder, Orbit is a more intimate story than its predecessor, exploring trust, the mind/brain paradox, and unease with one’s body, while examining the ways someone without a family makes their way in the world and forms their own connections. As good as Chambers’ first book was at world-building, her second is more an attempt at world-cultivating, focusing in close on a small story that still suggests a wider galaxy worth exploring in further installments.