The setting of The Dispossessed is a binary planet, Anarres and Urras. We are given a map of Anarres as two hemispheres, each labeled in quadrants. One hemisphere consists of Northrising, Southrising, Southsetting, Northsetting. These names could describe what is visible to an observer on Urras when Anarres is on the horizon, which would imply that Anarres is tide-locked, with that hemisphere always facing Urras; and suggests that Urras is not tide-locked (which is plausible because I think Urras is said to be heavier).

Is there anything in the text about the motions of either Anarres or Urras? Does Shevek ever notice that the other world is rising or setting?

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    What a coincidence, I've just started reading The Dispossessed and this question pops up.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Aug 24 at 14:12

1 Answer 1


There is at least one time when Shevek notes Anarres rising in the night sky of Urras:

Over the vague darkness of foliage and the tower of the chapel... a large, soft radiance. Moonrise, he thought, with a grateful sense of familiarity... He had seen the Moon rise when he was a little child, from the window of the domicile in Wide Plains, with Palat; over the hills of his boyhood; over the dry plains of the Dust; over the roofs of Abbenay, with Takver watching it beside him. But it had not been this Moon.

It had not been "this Moon" because in his boyhood he had seen the reverse phenomenon - Urras rising in Anarres' sky.

The shadows moved about him, but he sat unmoving as Anarres rose above the alien hills, at her full, mottled dun and bluish-white, lambent. The light of his world filled his empty hands.

The rising of the planet in the sky clearly indicates that the worlds were not tidally locked.


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