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The Fresco

3.91  ·  Rating Details ·  1,661 Ratings  ·  106 Reviews
The bizarre events that have been occuring across the United States -- unexplained "oddities" tracked by Air Defense, mysterious disappearances, shocking deaths -- seem to have no bearing on Benita Alvarez-Shipton's life. That is, until the soft-spoken thirty-six-year-old bookstore manager is approached by a pair of aliens asking her to transmit their message of peace to t ...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published November 7th 2000)
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Althea Ann
Feb 18, 2012 Althea Ann rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I’ve read quite a few of Sheri Tepper’s books. I usually consider them a guaranteed entertaining read; regardless of the author’s tendency to preach her spiritual/ecological agenda, and her tendency toward overwrought denouements. I can take that in stride, when balanced out by vivid worldbuilding, unique and interesting settings and social extrapolation, and dramatic events that ofter veer toward the horrific. Lots of Tepper’s books have lots of that good stuff.

This one features none of Tepper’
Richard Derus
Oct 24, 2016 Richard Derus rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Rating: 4* of five

Saddened to learn of Ms. Tepper's death at 87. What a career! Public service as director of Planned Parenthood out West, owner and manager of a guest ranch, and a solid authorial corpus. Damned fine legacy to leave.

Her deft touch with young women's thoughts and feelings is nowhere on better display than here, and in THE MARGARETS. The Pistach are a delightful culture, and in a properly run Universe will be out there among the trillions of solar systems waiting for us to find th
Jan 11, 2008 Eileen rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Eileen by: Madame Urushiol
This was one of the most captivating and enjoyable sci fi reads I've found in ages. It does not try to follow the typical "alien visitation and occupation" formula beyond the initial "take me to your leader". Instead, Sheri Tepper twists and turns the plot in ways that you don't see coming but which certainly make sense once you find out where you've landed. Her sense of humor is wicked, and I found myself cheering on characters, laughing out loud at some of the clever "cures" the aliens had for ...more
Jan 25, 2008 Stevelvis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished reading The Fresco by Sherri S Tepper who is now officially my most favorite author ever. Everytime I read one of her books I'm amazed at how she can take many complexities and boil them down to simple lessons about truth and life. In The Fresco Ms Tepper uses several different alien species to weave a tale that teaches about family, religion and neighborliness and she does it all in a way that will make you laugh out loud many times.

The book begins with an abused latina wife of
Jun 19, 2011 Lora rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Excellent worldbuilding derailed significantly by needless political pontificating. The ending was offensive to good sense and the rest of the novel as a whole. I felt like Ms. Tepping was sitting next to me, nudging me with her elbow and saying "Do you get it? Did you see what I did there? Do you get the parallels?"

Authors, when you manage to annoy me by preaching politics I generally agree with, there's something wrong.

Minus stars for ideological mud-slinging, but plus for fascinating worldb
I loved this book. I am having a hard time articulating even to myself why I liked it so much. It doesn't have super exciting action scenes. There's some cool technology but none of it is explained in any way. The ending was a little too simple--every bad guy got what was coming to him and everyone else got a happy ending. However, something about the story and the character of Benita just grabbed me from the start and I was totally sucked into the book.

The core idea of the book really resonated
Daryl Dizon
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jen V
Dec 12, 2007 Jen V rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: eco-feminism
I am a huge Sheri Tepper fan. However, this book was a disaster. Clunky prose and over-the-top preaching kept me from ever becoming immersed in this tale.

If Ms. Tepper and I were to have a chat over coffee, I'd imagine we'd agree on almost everything. However, I don't need to be whacked over the head repeatedly with the political views of this book. I get it already! In short, this book gave me a concussion.
C Hellisen
Jul 27, 2012 C Hellisen rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library
I've never hated a book more; though to be fair, I haven't yet read Mein Kampf.

This book was so utterly awful that I can't even explain my level of loathing.

I almost gave it 2 stars because at the very least the writer can string sentences together, but then I remembered all the times people gargled their dialogue and I realised that there was no way in hell it was going to get that second star.

Author is going on my Never Read Anything Else Ever By This Writer list.
Michael Battaglia
Oh dear, I don't think this one is going to be kind.

Since starting to work my way through patches of her oeuvre, I've become accustomed to the various quirks of the author, her pet environmental and feminist concerns, her tendency to recycle various plot elements in novel after novel, and her sometimes aggravating insistence that the plot is secondary to a character lecturing me about how we can live without technology. I've been taking this all in stride because while she seems to want me to fi
Jul 20, 2010 Vanessa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
It's in the forest of the New Mexico mountains where Benita Alvarez-Shipman meets the first aliens to visit the Earth. They ask her to bring their communication device to her 'leaders', give her money, and disappear, leaving her flabbergasted and reeling. Afraid to tell anyone what happened, she leaves her abusive husband (her children are off to college), and flies across the country to Washington DC where she hands off the package to her congressman.

From there things take off as Benita finds h
Mike Hedley
While "The Fresco" starts out as a fairly decent scifi novel, the plot gets lost in near-constant preaching. It's obvious Ms Tepper dislikes Israel, smokers and gun owners strongly. Cultural annihilation in Tibet, West Papua and elsewhere didn't rate a mention, though. In fact, the social commentary became annoying by about halfway, by which time it was obvious that Ms Tepper was using the SF format loosely, to further her social agenda rather offer a convincing novel. The Muslim "ugly disease" ...more
MB (What she read)
This is my very very favorite Tepper novel. I love Benita and I love the satire. The conflict feels very Clinton-era, but I'm okay with that. In many ways, I feel that this is her funniest novel. You can tell she was enjoying writing it and playing around with spoofing the modern world and its politics. There are still the dark and horror-y themes, but there's a lot more humor to cut the edge. Everytime I read the problem-solving scene (view spoiler) I l ...more
Aug 08, 2007 Alicia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of my all-time favorite books, & with ideas I still think about years later. The plot: an advanced and friendly alien race attempts to help Earth become ready to join its Federation; if Earth can't meet the standards of non-violence required of the advanced civilizations, it will become fair game for predatory non-Federation alien races.

The benign aliens apply such crash-course measures as removing Jerusalem from the planet & putting it into safekeeping -- like it's a toy that all t
feminist scifi at it's best! off planet aliens; battle zones disappearing; male political leaders becoming pregnant; & all weapons nullified. who is going to mediate, a 30something woman!
Roddy Williams
‘The bizarre events that have been occurring across the United States seem to have no bearing on Benita Alvarez-Shipton’s life. that is, until she is approached by a pair of aliens asking her to transmit their message of peace to the Powers That Be in Washington.
Her obligation does not end once the message is delivered, however, for the Pistach have offered their human hosts a spectacular opportunity for knowledge and enrichment, with Benita as sole liaison between the two sentient races. The mo
I couldn't sustain interest in the Fresco storyline.
May 30, 2012 Ben rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Tepper at some of her most preachy.

I like the fact that this writer has issues to address, and she has always been one of my favourite feminist authors and I appreciate her environmental stance. However, in recent years she has abandoned subtlety or balance to lead us around by the nose, as well as here espousing the dubious stance that the end justifies the means - or perhaps it is simply that it is perfectly fine to meddle with other cultures in underhanded and mendacious ways if it for their
Jun 29, 2013 Matthew rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
First contact stories are a big staple of science fiction, and between this book and The Serene Invasion, I've read two of them this year. And they're very similar, though the aliens in this book are a lot more blunt about screwing around with things they don't like. If you, say, believe that women need to be secluded, or forced to wear stupidly limiting clothing, you get (view spoiler). If you can't agree to ...more
Chandra Rogers
Sep 30, 2015 Chandra Rogers rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of my favorite books. I read it when I was still able to work full time. now that I can't, I'm even more appreciative of it. One of the many things that are part of this story, and the one I'll focus on here is that one of the important pieces of wisdom an alien culture wishes to see humanity foster is valuing people for what they can do instead of disparaging them for what they can't.People such as myself who can't hold down a job and thus in some people's eyes isn't contributing to ...more
♆ BookAddict  ✒ La Crimson Femme
Talk about another social commentary on our policies and life. Ms. Tepper brings to light groups ahead of news media. Her what-if scenarios are scary accurate and her resolutions to them unbelievably simplistic. It makes me wonder if they could work.

In Fresco, Benita is a nobody who suddenly becomes an important somebody with peace loving aliens come and change the world as we know it.

Everything seems to be perfect until the religion and way of life for the aliens, Pistach, is shaken to the core
Mar 22, 2008 Myridian rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I said in a recent blog that art does one of two things to me: it either narrows my focus to an appreciation of the object, or broadens my focus to an appreciation of the world and its interconnections. This book manages to do both admirably. It addresses all of the strangeness of our species through the eyes of aliens who have come to help us become "neighborly". I adore Tepper's main character. She's a strong woman who overcomes her inner demons with the help of the aliens and goes on to be th ...more
Dorothy Hall
Dec 03, 2016 Dorothy Hall rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoy these stories by Tepper. Using the stage of science fiction/fantasy she dissects long term human civilization obstacles including divinity defined during a cultures infancy and becoming frozen in that time: the treatment of women/equality, violence, democracy and money. Enjoyed the fresh point of view of Benita; the thoroughly human, courageous and grounded emissary.

Really like the discussion of addiction and co-dependence beginning on page 359. Worth reading for anyone with that issue
Shari Beck
Alien races visit Earth. The main plot concerns aliens who want humans to join the confederation, but on the condition that we meet their criteria for "neighborliness" first. And they will help us to learn neighborliness, whether or not everyone wants to learn.

This one was a guilty pleasure for me. There's a huge eco-feminist agenda in this book, almost preaching at points, but since it's basically stuff I agree with I couldn't help but enjoy it. The weakest part of the book came towards the en
Mar 16, 2012 Zedsdead rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
M Strawberry Reviews
One of Tepper's best works! I understand that some others don't see this as the best example of Tepper's work, but I beg to differ. I can understand why some people didn't think it was great, but personally I felt the mentions and actions about the ACLU, the fundies, the politicians, and everything else was spot on even if it was a caricature.

To me, the focal point in this book was of course, the Fresco itself. Many good issues are touched on/addressed, and the Fresco was used as a metaphor for
Aug 09, 2007 Gertie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Enjoyers of SF, aliens, and liberal do-gooders
Tepper tends to get a little preachy now and then and this book is a prime example. However since I tend to agree with a fair amount of her opinions, while reading this book I ended up doing a lot of head nodding, guffawing, and saying "hellz yeah!!" However, if your political beliefs slant towards the right you'll likely end up feeling annoyed during most of the book.

I really enjoyed this book since it was highly "digestible"- very easy to read (but not completely monosyllabic and idiotic), and
Sara Stillwell
Oct 16, 2013 Sara Stillwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I still don't understand why some people call Tepper a man-hater. There are usually a few bad men in her books, but there are male antagonists in almost every book. The only difference is that the protagonist is female in Tepper's books. There are as many good men as bad men in every book of hers that I've read. And why does it bother people that the environment and life are important in most of her novels? Are there beloved books that advocate pollution and destruction as a good thing? I very m ...more
Nov 26, 2013 Diana rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I never thought I'd rate a Tepper below 4 stars. This one, while generally enjoyable, had some issues. Yes, she makes her political and social views very clear, but every book I've read of hers does this and I applaud her outspoken bravery. (It also has helped that I agree with the vast majority of her ideas). However 'The Fresco' lacked a certain...elegance in unifying her story. I understand there was a more comedic element at play here than in other books of hers; however it didn't serve the ...more
Mar 24, 2016 Megalion rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For an avid reader like me, it's very hard to pick even just a few favorites. Or even a Top 10.

If I should ever sit down one day and try to create such a narrow list, this has a good chance of making it.

Sheri often writes with themes that are women or gender centric. This one looks at the roles between women and men in current society and how an alien race might perceive us and differ from us.

I've read this several times and will likely do so several more times. It's that good.
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Sheri Stewart Tepper was a prolific American author of science fiction, horror and mystery novels; she was particularly known as a feminist science fiction writer, often with an ecofeminist slant.

Born near Littleton, Colorado, for most of her career (1962-1986) she worked for Rocky Mountain Planned Parenthood, where she eventually became Executive Director. She has two children and is married to G
More about Sheri S. Tepper...

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“[T]he scripture worshippers put the writings ahead of God. Instead of interpreting God's actions in nature, for example, they interpret nature in the light of the Scripture. Nature says the rock is billions of years old, but the book says different, so even though men wrote the book, and God made the rock and God gave us minds that have found ways to tell how old it is, we still choose to believe the Scripture.” 79 likes
“The practice of diplomacy, I have found, is sometimes like eating soup with a fork: much activity yielding little nourishment.” 9 likes
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