Stratos is a planet colonized by humans in an attempt to create a more stable society. The majority of the people on Stratos are clans of female clones. Unique female individuals (called variants, or "vars") and men are considered to be lower class. Men and women only come into a season of sexual arousal at certain (different) times of year. Most of the time, the genders live separately.
In accordance with tradition, Maia and Leie, two young vars, set off on their own to make their fortune. Unfortunately, due to a disaster at sea, Maia finds herself on her own, with all her plans ruined. She gets a temporary job as a train porter, but her assistant, Tizbe seems to be involved in an illicit scheme. Maia discovers that Tizbe is distributing a drug which can sexually arouse males out of "season." In hope of a reward, she attempts to report the crime to the planetary authorities.
However, in an attempt to prevent her from reporting what she knows, a conspiracy of women kidnaps Maia. Soon she realizes the conspiracy involves more than just a drug - the women have also kidnapped a solitary male visitor from space. He is the first extra-planetary visitor to arrive on Stratos since a legendary hostile invasion in the distant past, which was barely repelled.
Each political faction on Stratos wants something from this visitor, and despite herself, Maia finds herself in an alliance of friendship with this male, escaping from their captors and discovering both forgotten technology and suppressed history.
This report prepared by Althea Morin