Shevek, a physicist who studies time. Tall, lean, and long-haired, Shevek is a citizen of Anarres, a world populated seven generations earlier by the followers of Odo, a woman who developed and organized a syndicalist anarchist movement. Shevek, as a genius in a society that has become increasingly conformist to a collective will, has difficulty pursuing and publishing his work, a General Temporal Theory that promises to open possibilities for faster-than-light communication and travel. Against the objections of his society, he travels to the sister planet of Urras, from which the Odonians emigrated, hoping to find there the freedom to present his discoveries. On Urras, however, major discoveries become military secrets to be used to acquire and hold national power. He finally evades the restrictions of both planets by broadcasting his discovery to all the known worlds, making possible instantaneous communication between distant planets. He is nearing the age of forty when he returns to Anarres.
Takver, a fish geneticist. She is tall, dark, intelligent, and not very pretty. Marriage does not exist on Anarres, but she becomes Shevek’s permanent sexual partner. Although their work and the social needs of Anarres often separate them, they have children and support each other in their careers. She encourages him to compromise with the conservative scientific establishment to have his works published...
(The entire section is 499 words.)