Rating: A bit corny, I probably won’t re-read.
Early in space colonization, a woman discovers a hidden solar system only half the distance away as Alpha Centauri, and is on a collision course with the solar system. Her colony uses its secret lightspeed travel to move there. The scientist’s daughter has a freak mutation which allows her to read body-language much better than normal people, and also somehow allows her to communicate with the alien life that lives on the new planet. Back on earth, her father locates the single scientist who truly believes that FTL travel is possible, and the Earth government funds her research. They eventually catch up with the colonists, and reach an agreement with the alien, which allows for all parties to benefit.
The leader of the colony and the leader of the Earth are both authoritarians driven by fear and the desire for success. They foil each other interestingly. The argument here is that intellectuals should not let allow themselves to become greedy and disregard those who do not possess their same strengths.
Two of the main characters are women, and there are several others as well. This book was late in Asimov’s career, so he’s top-notch.