First-novelist Darnay might be described as a diamond in the rough. Or perhaps more aptly a golf ball in the rough: every time you're ready to give up on him you suddenly find him landing triumphantly on the green. The plot is a wildly overblown affair which begins when Teddy Aspic, who is trying to peddle Uncle Sam the reincarnative idea of an eternal ""priesthood"" for guarding nuclear wastes, encounters bureaucrat Jack Clark--whom he remembers as a brutal SS officer in a former life. Bent on vengeance, Aspic develops the ""psychotron,"" a soul-recycling machine which captures the ""psychon"" at the moment of death and routes it into a new human receptacle. More than a century later, after a nuclear holocaust, Jack has endured various tormented existences through the agency of Aspic's fiendish, still-functioning machine. He seeks out Fenwick, the current Aspic avatar, who has no memory of his former crimes; in the end Jack is unable to carry out the terrible revenge he had intended Fenwick to suffer at the hands of the ravaged nuclear priesthood. All these goings-on are swathed in a heavy, pounding, frequently illiterate prose that somehow keeps gathering itself for moments of real force.