I read this book about 6-May-2007. I've read this book before. The book is copyright 1967. This note was last modified Wednesday, 22-Jan-2014 13:46:21 PST.
This note contains spoilers for the book.
One of the great classics of science fiction, and a Hugo Award winner. I've put it on my 5 best SF novels list since forever.
I'm not partial to messing with presentation order of events, and this book is told in flash-backs and flash-forwards and is generally confusing that way; I'm not sure I could give you the real series of events out of my head even today. But it's good enough to overcome that.
It's also the source of a lot of my information on the Hindu and Budhist religions, I'm afraid.
It's set on an extra-solar planet, colonized from Earth. The crew of the ship have mostly set themselves up as the Hindu gods (and find they have psi talents they can use and encourage, and which even follow them through body transplants), and are mostly running the planet as a resort for themselves, on the grounds of it being dangerous to give too much power to ignorant people (this is a long time after the landing, the people have had a lot of time to become ignorant).
And Sam is still in favor of helping the passengers, even treating them decently. This makes him an "Accelerationist", and puts him at odds with Heaven. Over the years, he pretty much wins his point, I think. And gets many of the gods to help him, and becomes himself the Buddha for that world (though a student he attracts seems to attain real enlightenment), and is even called back from Nirvana by Yama, the deathgod.
Zelazny plays with mythic themes, of course. The gods work very nicely for that, with their attributes and aspects and technological assistance, and politics, and so forth.
Probably doesn't hurt my enjoyment that the one remaining Christian, Nirriti the Black, is important primarily as a zombie master.