Sherri S. Tepper


Sherri S. Tepper is a fascinating author who needs to be better known.  She wrote fiercely feminist science fiction and fantasy.  

I stumbled across her books in a library and was hooked.  Over the years I’ve collected many of her books (there are a lot) and do occasional rereads.

One book I read most often is The Fresco.  I want to live in this world. 

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 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 liasion between the two sentient races. The more she learns about the extra-terrestrials, the more her appreciation grows for their culture, their beliefs and their art – especially the ancient and mysterious Fresco that dominates their collective lives.

But the Pistach are not the only space-faring species making their presence known on Earth. There are others, cold, malevolent and hungry… ”

That synopsis doesn’t sum up the joy I find in this book.  Benita is an abused wife whose children are now college aged.  She is planning on suicide when she is interrupted by the arrival of two aliens.  They chose her as their contact with Earth because she could not be perceived as having an underlying agenda.  They help her move away from her husband to safety and then she lets the world know that aliens are real.  

In order for Earth to join an alliance that will protect us, we have to be found to be Neighborly.  We aren’t.  Usually there is time to work through this but the schedule is tight so the aliens force Neighborliness upon us.  They basically give religious leaders and politicians everything they say they want but not quite in the way those men thought it was going to go down.  I want to stand up and cheer every time I read this book.  

The book also discusses religion.  The aliens base their society and peaceful nature on their religion.  Their scripture is a fresco.  It is so holy it can’t be cleaned.  Now it is unreadable after centuries of wear.  Will their civilization fall if a forced cleaning reveals that their lives are based on a lie?

This is a book I’d love to force everyone to read.  Start here and then move through her other books.