The protagonist is a teenage boy living outside the city with his wealthy and greatly respected father. He travels into the city daily to study at a prestigious school run by his mother.

One of his brothers needs a floating wheelchair. There is lots of living in the desert in tents in the book. It was part of a series.

Marriages in this society are temporary for a year. Some couples renew their vows with the same person year after year. Many do not. A rich arrogant man refers to a house inside the city as his. It is pointed out to him that legally men cannot own houses in this city. The house belongs to his wife. He says, technically yes, but she is always going to keep being married to me.

The protagonist has several older brothers. One of them is an actor, his name begins with M. Some people try to trick the actor into acting a part in a play that makes fun of his own father. They hope he is ignorant of the current event concerning his father as he would never intentionally publicly mock his well respected patriarch. To begin with he is ignorant and it looks like the plan will work. He finds out before the play is performed and is furious with them!

There is a law that all farms outside the city have to have a room for any travellers to sleep in, accessible from the outside of the surrounding wall. Most people do the minimum required by law, but his father does more and supplies extras such as a hot meal and comfortable bedding.


1 Answer 1


The Memory of Earth (1992) by Orson Scott Card, first book of the "Homecoming Saga"?

From Goodreads:

High above the planet Harmony. the Oversoul watches Its task. programmed so many millennia ago. is to guard the human settlement on this planet-. -to protect this fragile remnant of Earth from all threats. To protect them. most of all. from themselves. The Oversoul has done its job well. There is no war on Harmony. There are no weapons of mass destruction. There is no technology that could lead to weapons of war. By control of the data banks. and subtle interference in the very thoughts of the people. the artificial intelligence has fulfilled its mission. But now there is a problem. In orbit. the Oversoul realizes that it has lost access to some of its memory banks. and some of its power systems are failing. And on the planet. men are beginning to think about power. wealth. and conquest.

Specifically, from this review:

Look, this is what Card thinks is a matriarchy: exactly the same as the US, circa mid 1980s, but only women are allowed to own residential property inside the city proper, there's a special religious lake that men aren't allowed to visit, and people sign marriage contracts with each other that only last one year.

Wikipedia's character list has the brother being an actor, and his name begins with M:

Nafai's second oldest brother. An unabashed hedonist and would-be actor, his most recent seduction at the start of the expedition is Rasa's niece Dol, a former child actor.

The cover has someone on a floating chair:

book cover, two people crossing an ark with a large creature, one of the people sits on a floating device

Found with the Google query scifi book marriage lasts for a year site:goodreads.com/book.

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    Not disagreeing with you, but with the reviewer. The society of the book seemed more influenced by the Old Testament than by1980s America. They had no cars or trains. Their families were incredibly important. Outside the city, they were desert farmers and traders. Commented Apr 6 at 11:34
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    I am impressed by your skill at using Google. I will try using site:goodreads.com/book. In the future. Thank you. Commented Apr 6 at 13:22
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    @DannyMcG As I recall the chair did not have wheels. It used some sort of antigravity suspensors. It served the purpose of a wheelchair. Commented Apr 6 at 21:02
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    @DannyMcG "Once he was away from the magnetics of the city, Issib had to ride in his chair, a clumsy machine that he could only ride from place to place. It wouldn't help him do anything. Away from the city, confined to his chair, Issib was really crippled. " Commented Apr 6 at 21:07
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    @JudithJones: It's a handy trick, particularly since searching for "book" often gets completely unrelated results, like travel sites, and not everyone calls their work a "novel".
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Apr 6 at 23:02

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