Counting down to 2000 a.d. may be a bit less tense, thanks to this enjoyably goofy melodrama from NPR commentator, essayist, and novelist (The Blood Countess, 1995). In alternating chapters, Codrescu recounts the adventures of two unlikely heroines who, together, may save the planet from annihilation. There’s Felicity LeJeune, a beauteous Creole p.i. based in New Orleans, who’s on a personal crusade against the evangelist who talked her senile grandmother out of pocketing her lottery winnings. Felicity’s attempts to shake down the oily Reverend Mullen are aided in surreptitious ways by her old friend and surrogate father, Major Notz (a figure straight out of Dr. Strangelove). Meanwhile, at a Jerusalem hospice, teenaged Andrea Isbik, another beauty but of indistinct ethnic origin, seduces her protector nuns as well as a polyglot group of religious leaders uneasily awaiting the millennium and heads for the Big Easy just as the 1900s breathe their last. The several plots in which each gets enmeshed defy summary, but they embrace such charming oddities as the search for the fabled “Language Crystal” (whereby the globe’s scattered millions might communicate), the Internet as a venue for the transmigration of souls, “leather jacketed, pierced people . . . [called] neotribals” who are seeking a messiah, and the Israeli version of TV’s Wheel of Fortune. Prominent among this manic story’s many characters are a meddlesome angel named Zack, a macho cop obsessed with Felicity, and the “incarnated” spirits of scientist Nikolai Tesla and Roman poet Ovid. Great Minds, nefarious villains, and the crucial figures of Felicity and Andrea (“Together, they were a new being”) eventually meet up in the New Jerusalem: New Orleans, during Mardi Gras. And, well, why not? Overstuffed and gratingly whimsical but often very funny (reminiscent of Southern and Hoffenberg’s Candy, Gore Vidal’s wilder fantasies, and perhaps Edward Whittemoore’s Jerusalem Quartet). On the other hand, if you’ll believe that Vanna White may be “an emanation . . . of the Divine One,” this is the novel for you.