Effinger, who is becoming one of the most accomplished practitioners of ironic, mildly elliptical speculative fiction, spins gracefully through eight jarring little hypotheses. Are you beset by paranoid fantasies about the true history and moral implications of your breakfast cereal? Do the various authority situations of your past (school, organized athletics, religion) ever seem to blur into one monstrous self-enclosed Kafkaesque tyranny? Has it ever occurred to you to look more closely at the implications of that innocent phrase ""theater of war""? Even when he's funny (which is often), Effinger never loses an air which could perhaps be described as pungently moralistic--and irrational like a fox.