This is the first of PKD's three final novels (the others are "Divine Invasion" and "The Transmigration of Timothy Archer," and yes now you know the next three PKD books I'll be reading). I think these fall not only into the science fiction category, but could also fall easily into the Philosphy realm. "Valis" takes place in our world and may even be semi-autobiographical. There are many sections In which PKD refers to other books he's read. The book is written in both first and third person. In first person the narrator refers to himself as Philip the sci-fi writer and refers back to some of his books. When the narrator shifts to third person he refers to the character Horselover Fat. It is revealed that Horselover Fat is actually part of PKD's schizophrenic split personality and all his friends treat them as 2 different people and hope for him to be cured eventually. Another semi-autobiographical aspect is in the name Horselover Fat. "Horselover" is English for the Greek word philippos (Φίλιππος), meaning "lover of horses" (from philo "brotherly or comradely love" and hippos "horse"); "Fat" is English for the German word "dick".
This book is a group of friends' search for God, who turns out to be a virus, a joke, and a mental hologram transmitted from an orbiting satellite. The friends are very rememinscent of the friends in the book "A Scanner Darkly," especially in their very humourous dialogues about God. The proponent of the novel, Horselover Fat, is thrust into a theological quest when he receives communion in a burst of pink laser light. From the cancer ward of a bay area hospital to the ranch of a fraudulent charismatic religious figure who turns out to have a direct com link with God, Dick leads us down the twisted paths of Gnostic belief, mixed with his own bizarre and compelling philosophy. Truly an eye opening look at the nature of consciousness and divinity.
The group of friends explore the revelatory visions of one Horselover Fat; a semi-autobiographical dialogue of PKD. The groups research leads to a rock musician's estate where they confront the Messiah: a two-year old named Sophia. She confirms their suspicions that an ancient, mechanical intelligence orbiting the earth has been guiding their discoveries.