A 1963 sci fi novel about ALIENS! Yea, aliens. I love sci fi that has aliens in it. A lovely, almost gentle story about a Civil War soldier who is approached by a representative of an alien culture to use his rural farmhouse as a way station for alien travelers. It seems that galactically speaking, folks have been touristing and sightseeing around the galaxy by some nifty form of teleportation, and in order to reach the farther areas, the system needs booster stations.
Enoch Wallace agrees, (well, fudge, wouldn’t you?), and the aliens transform his home into a way station, the same on the outside, but totally transformed inside. While in the building, Enoch does not age. He only ages when he goes outside. He does not farm, nor have any animal stock, and goes out once a day to collect the mail and pass a few words with his friend the mail carrier. Of course, as the townspeople age and die, Enoch remains the same age, but somehow in this pastoral community, it is just accepted, and life goes on.
Enoch is constantly receiving visitors inside from the galaxy, strange and most of them not at all human like. They stay a day or so and often bring him gifts, bizarre objects whose meaning usually eludes him. He keeps them in a storage area in the now almost limitless basement.
It is now a hundred years since the way station was established. Enoch has been keeping a map or timeline or analysis based on an alien mathematical system of how close the earth may be to another war. He predicted the two World Wars, and now it seems the earth is moving toward a final, totally destructive war which will annihilate humanity.
The book uses this premise to examine the idea of cooperation, war, the tendency of sentient beings everywhere to be combative and at odds with each other. The seemingly mutually cooperative galaxy civilizations are now starting to have problems and the traveling system is in jeopardy of being dismantled, at least this branch of it, and the way station being closed down.
Other than a transportation system that obviously kills the transportee and assembles a duplicate at the end point, which surely is an example of spooky action at a distance, hahaha, the futuristic technology is fun, the aliens are great, and ya gotta love gadgets that do stuff that is totally meaningless to the recipient. Yeah, kind of like me and a smart phone. I can totally relate.