The actual commentary that Malzburg is trying to make with these characters borders on the profound but is ultimately derailed by the distraction of using real life characters. Some of the comments the author attempts to make about mental illness and the future of humanity in space are interesting, but when Sigmund Freud shows up complaining about Carl Jung the entire thing goes off the rails and any gravitas the author was attempting to bring turn into a spate of giggles.
Towards the end there is a bit of introspection regarding fame and success, and how close each of these major historical characters perhaps was to being largely forgotten by history. Freud then trades in his entire fictional life from the book for the real life that we are aware of. It's an interesting bit of metafiction and kind of a cool question to think about, the random choices in a life that can lead to success or failure. But, by and large doesn't save the novel from earlier distractions.
This isn't the first book I've reviewed that attempted to take a preposterous premise and treat it seriously. I think 'The Void Captain's Tale' wins the prize in that regard. Whereas in Void Captain Norman Spinrad's talent as a writer was able to keep the reader grounded and suspend disbelief (stave off the giggles) for the duration of the novel, in Remaking Malzburg is not quite up to the task of making us take this story seriously the entire time.
Malzburg would have done better to emulate a writing style more like Philip Dick who even in his earlier, less ridiculous work, never seemed to take his writing too seriously and and was never scared to let the originality of his idea overshadow everything else. Jonathan Lethem's 'Gun, with Occasional Music,' would be a modern idea of this, where the author never demands that we take the novel too seriously, and is therefore able to command our attention through a good story.
Remaking is an interesting novel that gets points for originality. It's just what the reader should be looking for in a Nebula nominee from the early eighties. Flawed but original, I'm sure every review for the novel was bound to say 'something new' somewhere in it, which this book definitely is. Though 'The Remaking of Sigmund Freud' never really had a chance to win any awards, it was published in the same year as 'Ender's Game' and 'Blood Music' after all, but it's more than deserving of a nomination, and I'm glad it was. Otherwise it might be totally forgotten by now.