Norstrilia is the best science fiction novel you haven't read. Once you read it, it may be the best science fiction novel you have read. Some of the situations in it might sound familiar, since many aspects of the book seem to have been picked up in Frank Herbert's Dune Series; as well as becoming themes in much manga and anime.
The book was the only book written by Paul Linebarger as Cordwainer Smith. He wrote a long series of stories known as the instrumentality cycle. This however, was the only complete novel length work, originally published as two separate works, and then published together after his death, in 1974.
The plot of the book is rather simple: Rod McBan, a young man of hidden talents, decides to stay up late one night trading stocks over Instant Messaging on his computer, and ends up with enough money to buy Earth. He travels to Earth in search of a postage stamp for his collection, and, being the galaxy's richest man, ends up in a number of plots and schemes, eventually joining up with a shadowy resistance group, gives them a large amount of money, and returns home happy.
What is extraordinary about the book is the settings, backgrounds, and out of sight maneuvering of the characters and groups in the book. For example, the book starts on Norstrilia, or "Old North Australia", a planet that is the only producer of the immortality drug stroon, which comes from gigantic sick sheep. The inhabitants of the planet choose not to let their wealth go to their heads, instead putting a large luxury tax on every imported item, and continuing to live as simple farmers, despite being the richest planet in the galaxy. The description of other planets, especially Earth, is also rich and unusual.
The real meaning of the plot, as it is in all of Cordwainer Smith's works, is between the Instrumentality, the shadow government, and the religion, which is referenced but not explicitly mentioned as a form of Chrisitianity, that it seeks to oppress. Although the book at first deals with the Instrumentality as an all-powerful bureaucracy, it ends with the revelation that they themselves are just pawns in humanity's continued development.
Despite being a book about Christianity, it has been mentioned that much of the stucture of the book comes from the famous work of Chinese literature, the Journey to the West, a work about a quest for Buddhist scriptures. That is only one of many literary references, real or imagined, in this multi-layered, multi-charactered book.