Way Station - Clifford D. Simak (2)
Simak won the Hugo in 1964 for this quiet piece. Enoch Wallace, a civil war veteran from southwestern Wisconsin, is chosen by Galactic Central to operate a way station on earth, where alien lifeforms pass through on their way elsewhere.
While there is a dramatic plot, Simak clearly puts the emphasis on fleshing out the central idea of a brotherhood of all beings, to which humanity, even though standing on the brink of self-extinction from an atomic war, seeks admission. It is a nice read - and also an interesting piece of 60s optimistic pessimism.
While in the end the brotherhood of sophonts is sustained, nuclear war averted, and balance is returned to the force (possibly one more "inspiration" for all-around plot-thief Lucas, otherwise just a common cliche), this is achieved only because of sheer luck, the special sensibilities of an outcast, and a magical Deus-Ex-Machina superdevice.