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The Fresco

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  1,938 ratings  ·  137 reviews
The bizarre events that have been occuring 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 messsage 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
Paperback, 406 pages
Published 2002 by Gollancz (first published November 7th 2000)
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Average rating 3.92  · 
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 ·  1,938 ratings  ·  137 reviews

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Althea Ann
Feb 18, 2012 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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindled
Rating: 4* of five

The Publisher Says: The bizarre events that have been occuring 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 messsage 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 liasion be
Jan 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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 added it
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
Jen V
Dec 12, 2007 rated it did not like it
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.
Jan 27, 2008 added it
Shelves: scifi
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! ...more
Pam Baddeley
Aug 04, 2019 rated it did not like it
I have in the past enjoyed some of this author's novels, but thoroughly disliked others. This one almost scraped into the 'OK' category because there are some aspects which were enjoyable. The trouble is, these are outweighed by the Mary Sue nature of the protagonist Benita (abused dormat wife turns into confident articulate representative after suitable 'adjustment' by benevolent and powerful aliens), and the wish fulfilment which resolves all the world's problems by the intervention of those s ...more
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
May 30, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
I hate it when I do this: read a book, finish before I'm sleepy, start a new book and nearly forget to write my review of the last book! Boo! Me! And this book deserves reviews!!!

My friend, Kay, gave such a marvelous review that I knew I had to read it. I highly recommend it!

It has everything. Aliens, other planets, other points of view. The main character is female, Benita, who finds herself in a bad, abusive marriage. She is looking to get out and not be found.

What finds her is new opportuniti
Aug 08, 2007 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 the diffe
C Hellisen
Jul 27, 2012 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
deleting this review because despite not liking the book, I didn't need to be such a gigantic dick about it. ...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
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Michael Battaglia
Nov 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok
Sheri S Tepper is one of my favourite authors - but this is not one of my favourite books. She seems to have attempted to write a moral fable à la Kurt Vonnegut, in which an earthling encounters aliens who show her all that is wrong with the world, and show her how to fix it. The result is both preachy and fatuous.

It's not that I reject the picture of our wrongs that she paints out of hand. I assent to the idea that we life in a patriarchy, an oppression of women that varies from place to place
V. Briceland
Aug 20, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sheri S. Tepper's literary career stretched over three decades and forty-nine books. Although I re-read her novels frequently, with that kind of output it should be understandable there are individual volumes I remember less vividly than the others. The Fresco is one of those. I must have read it at least a couple of times before, but my memories of the plot were so foggy that it might as well have been new to me.

The Fresco is, at heart, a satire of manners between two incredibly high-handed (th
david kurimsky
May 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
Pretty odd book. Creative and fun but also heavy-handed with it's politics and pretty awkward in parts. It's hard to categorize. That said, I read it 10 years ago and I just read it again. So, overall, I'm a fan. It's like an album by a band who never succeeded in writing a pop song but nevertheless created something interesting and compelling. ...more
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Maureen by: Rose Ann
Loved this book. And I'm not generally a sci-fi reader. But my favorite librarian Rose recommended it, and she's never wrong. ...more
Jul 20, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Aug 12, 2019 rated it did not like it
I managed to finish this. But it was a mess, with an unlikable protagonist who changed too quickly and unbelievably, a whole lot of 1972-era lecturing about liberal values (which I'd have said I shared, but maybe not, I think, after reading this. So much nonsense. And all sorts of "religion is for childish people who want their problems taken care of by an authoritarian" lectures, yet the whole book is about aliens coming along and taking care of our problems to create a 1972 liberal eden in an ...more
Mike Hedley
Oct 24, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
M.M. Strawberry Library & 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
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was ok
Neat story idea, possibly interesting characters...but along the way I feel like she's dropping Anvils of Obvious on my head to make her point. Got through half of it and decided to find something more fun to read. ...more
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Started off well. Lots of interesting ideas. But the story got very convoluted and bit corny. I just flipped through the last section rather than read it fully as it had become a bit tedious. Nowhere near the standard of 'Grass'. ...more
Rose Ann
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: sf readers
OMG I loved this book! I have re-read it at least 3 times. But it is a science fiction book and won't be everyone's cup of tea.

9/7/2017 -- just finished re-reading this
Feb 11, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m not sure whether this was a science fiction novel or a political manifesto. The trope of aliens reflecting humanity back on itself is a valid and traditional one, and is often used to demonstrate social and political ideologies. In this particular case ‘current’ (in 2000) libertarian capitalism is picked apart by a species that uses direct intervention to correct cultural shortcomings, social ills and political shenanigans. The Pistach represent a Confederation of worlds which has left behin ...more
Chris Stoddard
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a friend, her first comment about it being "I wouldn’t recommend it to most guys – or to anybody conservative", and of course my first though was, "Oh this is going to be fun!". About a quarter of the way through I knew why she was not inclined to recommend it to most guys. Let me get this straight right off the bat, this book is not anti men, but the book does depict a certain types of men in a bad light and if you happen to identify with those archetypes, you ...more
WackyRomanticPyrate Diana
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
Sci-fi/fantasy. Though I believe there was some negativity/violence at beginning (which I'm never in to); I only tend to remember positive books as favorites, so it -may- have been minimal. I believe part of the story starts w/a women leaving a bad situation... And after that my memory is the book is pretty much an exhilaratingly upbeat, empowered, imaginative, over-the-top outrageous, imaginative, substance-filled, positive possibility/solution-themed story romp from there. ...Like a female 'Mi ...more
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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

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