Arrabus on the planet Wyst is an "egalistic" nation, where everyone is supposedly equal to everyone else. Arrabins work only two hours per week ("drudge"), which is drawn at random each week. In return, they receive food in the form of gruff, deedle, and wobbly - all synthetically produced food - and are housed in gigantic block tenements. Natural food ("bonter") is very rare, resulting in a flourishing black market trade with the "Weirdlands", the lands beyond Arrabus. An executive committee of four, selected at random and known as the Whisperers, governs Arrabus.