Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Fresco” as Want to Read:
The Fresco
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Fresco

3.93  ·  Rating details ·  1,838 ratings  ·  125 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

Kindle Edition, 484 pages
Published September 25th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books (first published November 7th 2000)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
3.93  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,838 ratings  ·  125 reviews

More filters
Sort order
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
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’
Jan 11, 2008 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 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
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
Jen V
Dec 12, 2007 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.
Jan 27, 2008 added it  ·  review of another edition
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!
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
May 30, 2012 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
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 t
Mar 05, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
C Hellisen
Jul 27, 2012 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
Mar 10, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 20, 2010 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
Sep 01, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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'.
Feb 06, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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.
Rose Ann
Mar 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Chris Stoddard
Oct 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 09, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"Oh no, that opinionated (nasty?) lady, Sheri Tepper, is being preachy at me!"

Ha. This deserves four stars just for the people it riles up (including me at one point--yes the Right is the target for most of what's going on here, but Tepper has layered in a few triggers for constituencies on the Left too). I imagine it must have been wonderfully cathartic to write (I suspect if she were still with us, we would be getting a sequel around now).

It's obviously a satire (one might have thought names
Tepper is so weird. One minute she's presenting a super-reductive, strangely inane take on First Contact, and the next she's introducing a richly textured world in which the interpretation of sacred texts and a whole catalog of job-specific pronouns are equally important. I love the pronouns. The sacred texts things is great, too. But I could really lose the whole first third or so (or is it the middle third?) of this book. I'm waffling between three and four stars, but ultimately the plot was n ...more
Sep 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This meandered quite a bit but I liked it. It's told via several viewpoints and voices and I had to keep them straight to completely enjoy the story. I do like the main character, Benita. She had a tough life but she dragged herself up by the bootstraps and taught herself well. She has street smarts and learns on her feet, completely observant when it comes to the aliens who have arrived on her doorstep bent on helping Earth, but not as much when it comes to her family choices.
There are plenty
Emma Willis
I really enjoy the author's style and interesting and unusual ideas which is why I keep reading her books. I don't enjoy so much having her political opinions shoved down my throat. I don't mind reading books where the author has an opinion they want you to think about, even if I don't necessarily always agree, but I don't like to feel preached at, and that is the reason her books lose stars for me - the harder the push, the fewer stars I feel I can give. Other than this issue, I find her work o ...more
Jenifer  Lavery
Mar 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As beautiful today as when I first read it

She writes with as much joy and passion that every book is as n extension of herself. I love the beauty of her writing
Victoria O
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of those books that I enjoyed enough to find a hardcover copy for my library and reread occasionally!
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Through Alien Eyes
  • Empire of Bones
  • A Woman's Liberation: A Choice of Futures by and About Women
  • Regeneration (Species Imperative, #3)
  • Thendara House (Darkover, #13)
  • Starfarers
  • The Machine's Child (The Company, #7)
  • Women of Wonder, the Contemporary Years: Science Fiction by Women from the 1970s to the 1990s
  • Wheelers
  • The Betrayal (Cyteen, #1)
  • Crossfire (Crossfire, #1)
  • Mars Rising (Saving Mars #6)
  • Child of a Rainless Year
  • Don’t Bite the Sun (Four-BEE, #1)
  • The World Before (Wess'Har Wars, #3)
  • Gate of Darkness, Circle of Light
See similar books…
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
No trivia or quizzes yet. Add some now »
“[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.” 93 likes
“The practice of diplomacy, I have found, is sometimes like eating soup with a fork: much activity yielding little nourishment.” 9 likes
More quotes…