First off, I love Zelazny and Dick, especially Dick, so maybe it's no suprise that I love this book. True, part of the writing is recycled from some of Dick's short-stories, true it bears his trademark sloppy writing style. But who cares if he wasn't a 'technically' gifted writer, when his ideas are so compelling, his horror so gut-wrenching, and his humor equally so!
This ia another post-apocolyptic distopia with a few 'straight' (unmutated) humans left among various mutational forms ('bugs', 'runners', 'rollers' etc.). Dick's penchant for radioactively evolved animals (intelligent worms and dung-beetles who talk in American Slang) is in full force, as well as his signature distrust/fascination with large institutions and mechanisms. There are three scenes with old broken-down automated factories that are chilling and (in the latter cases) hysterically funny!
The hero is a 'phoce', a man with no arms or legs (phoce means something like 'dophin-like') who is (by way of military surplus extensors) a religious painter who is sent on a pilgramage of sorts to find the 'deus irae' (angry god), which is seen by his church to be the man who 'pushed the button' and started WW3. An agent from the almost defunct Christian Church is sent to foil the nearly helpless phoce, because the church fears that if the angry god church captures the deus iraes visage, their ascendancy over Christiantity will be complete. It's an insane and funny/sad prospect all around. Like so many Dick books, it contains a plot that is completely unbelievable, even absurd in extremis and yet still has a strangely truthful resonance.
This book is an easy and enjoyable read. I don't put it in the same league as the best Dick classics like Man in the High Castle, Ubik, Dr. Bloodmoney, but it's a CLOSE 2nd. And like those books, the same themes, pathos and humor, paranoia and blazingly creative intellect are all there. And like those, the same 'magic realism' of Borges, Marquez etc. is also in evidence.