After two apocalyptic wars, Earth is slowly repopulated by survivors. Hal Yarrow and his wife, Mary, share a small apartment in Sigmen City with another couple. The Yarrows sleep at night, the other couple during the day. A rigid church/state structure, the Sturch, controls the society. Married couples are required to engage in sexual relations, and each partner must report the other for any lawbreaking activity. Hal and Mary are not compatible, and Hal has difficulty relating to Mary and to the rules of the Sturch.
Luckily for Hal, he is selected to travel to a distant planet, Ozagen, to act as a translator for an exploratory group. The group ostensibly will visit the planet as a scientific team but actually is planning to poison the inhabitants with a gas attack. Hal signs on for the trip on the spaceship Gabriel because he wants to escape the restrictions of Sigmen City and to obtain a divorce. The divorce will be granted automatically because the trip will take about forty years, making his marriage untenable.
Pornsen, Hal’s gapt (lifetime mentor), suspects Hal’s secret reasons for the trip. As Hal’s gapt, Pornsen has the duty of watching over Hal. Hal has developed a hatred for Pornsen and tries to avoid him.
Once on Ozagen, Hal learns the native language with the help of Fobo, one of the Ozagens’ leaders. He gradually overcomes his dislike of the Ozagens. At a huge shrine, Hal hears someone calling out for...
(The entire section is 548 words.)