Contemporary alien-visitors yarn from the author of Singer From the Sea, 1999, etc. The benevolent alien Pistach contact hardworking Benita Alvarez. They give her a message cube to present to the authorities—and they also give her the mental balance necessary to break free of her detestable personal circumstances. At length the cube, which shows how the Pistach can help humanity prepare to join the galactic federation by solving such intractable problems as crime, poverty, famine, and slavery, reaches the president. He engages Benita as liaison to the aliens. But predator races have also discovered Earth, say the Pistach, and intend to use the planet as a gigantic hunting ground. Certain politicians are willing to cooperate with them in return for power and wealth. Soon, though, the Pistach methods show near-miraculous results. The Pistach derive their ethos from a holy Fresco painted by the hero Canthorel. The pictures tell a story that inspires and impels the Pistach to help other races, even though the pictures are so dirty that the details cannot be discerned. Naturally, it’s unthinkable to clean and possibly damage the Fresco. Then the heretic, T’Fees, cleans the Fresco, revealing the truth: the Pistach were conquerors and slavers! Pistach plunges into despair. The Pistach, however, are notably untalented artists, and this fact gives Benita an idea how humans may be able to help the Pistach.
Another consummately skillful, wise, sometimes hilarious, iconoclastic performance, although possibly too relentlessly polemical for some tastes.