First half is set on alien world, narrating survey team's agon
, wherein one faction wants to exploit the world as a colony, one guy wants to shut it down as a secret military installation and reduce aliens to involuntary servitude, and priestly protagonist wants to quarantine the world as a Satanic tool.
Second half follows adventures of anarchist alien brought back to Earth, which has a "shelter economy," rooted in Cold War hysteria for bunkers--most people live in buried megapolitan areas, and most people are crazed.
Priest begins narrative by pondering "the century-old problem, first propounded in 1939" (7), arising out of bizarre domestic facts in Joyce's Finnegan's Wake
, which problem the priest paraphrases as "Has he hegemony and shall she submit?" (47). Priest's answer is clever, but the entire narrative is inflected by the Joycean stuff, and I'm not sure exactly what it might mean.
Priest becomes a manichean. Climax is confrontation with pope regarding doctrinal issue. Denouement is both ambiguous and conclusive. Great setting development all around. Very engaging, smart, witty, &c.