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The Carpet Makers

The Carpet Makers

4.6 5
by Andreas Eschbach, Doryl Jensen (Translator)

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Since the time of pre-history, carpetmakers tie intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hairs of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpetmaker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime.

This art descends from father to son, since the beginning of time itself.



Since the time of pre-history, carpetmakers tie intricate knots to form carpets for the court of the Emperor. These carpets are made from the hairs of wives and daughters; they are so detailed and fragile that each carpetmaker finishes only one single carpet in his entire lifetime.

This art descends from father to son, since the beginning of time itself.

But one day the empire of the God Emperor vanishes, and strangers begin to arrive from the stars to follow the trace of the hair carpets. What these strangers discover is beyond all belief, more than anything they could have ever imagined...

Brought to the attention of Tor Books by Orson Scott Card, this edition of The Carpet Makers contains a special introduction by Orson Scott Card.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“Eschbach's first novel will blow you away. Yes, it's that good.” —Analog

“A considerable achievement, and one that suggests the presence of a world-class SF voice that we ought to know about.” —Locus

“Enthusiastically introduced by no less than Orson Scott Card, this far-future novel does credit to everyone concerned, starting with its German author... Despite being broken into short episodes, the novel is one fluidly integrated story. Eschbach is likely to become an international phenomenon.” —Booklist

“With his first work Eschbach shows that the German SF is not dead.” —Olive Faulhaber on The Carpet Makers

“Andreas Eschbach is one of the most acclaimed sf writers to emerge in Germany in the past decade.” —The Magazine of Science Fiction and Fantasy on The Carpet Makers

“Andreas Eschbach is a phenomenon.” —Lesen & Leute on The Carpet Makers

“Eschbach: take it and read it.” —Frank Schirrmacher, FAZ on The Carpet Makers

“Andreas Eschbach is incontestably the shooting star of the German SF scene.” —Heyne Science Fiction Yearbook on The Carpet Makers

Publishers Weekly
Set on a low-tech world where the main industry is the manufacture of carpets of human hair, German SF author Eschbach's first novel forms a grim mosaic of stories of myriad people and cultures trapped in stagnation by one powerful man's petty anger. Intended for the emperor on a distant planet, the carpets are so finely made that each carpet maker can only finish one in his lifetime, working with hairs from the bodies of his wives, who are chosen for the quality and color of their tresses. And so life goes, generation after generation, even after rumors and, finally, ships from the new government arrive with word of the emperor's removal. The new interstellar government learns the emperor secretly maintained thousands of carpet-making planets. Why? Eventually, the reader finds out the answer, though the revelation comes almost as an afterthought. While Eschbach's vignettes do form a fragile whole, the structure lacks urgency or focus. There's bound to be extra publicity because Orson Scott Card, who provides an intro, helped discover the book, but while Card fans will enjoy the large-scale world building and historical detail, they may be disappointed by the lack of real characters or sustained plot. (Apr. 15) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Eschbach, now one of Germany's leading SF lights, debuts in English with a novel that unfolds as a series of interlocking stories in which certain characters recur. On Planet G-101/2 in the Gheera galaxy, reverence for and fear of the immortal Emperor Alexander is drilled into all citizens as children. The planet's entire economy is organized around skilled artisans who knot carpets made from their wives' hair. So intricate is the work that a carpet-maker can complete only one carpet during his lifetime. He then sells the carpet, earning enough money for his son to live on while he completes his own carpet. Carpet-makers take several wives, each chosen for the beauty and color of her hair. Since a carpet-maker can have only one heir, he is obliged to kill any surplus male children. Traders take the carpets to the spaceport, where they are loaded aboard Imperial ships and conveyed to the Emperor's palace. So it has been for tens of thousands of years. Recently, however, rumors whisper that the Emperor is dead and the empire is no more. On Central World, meanwhile, Jubad and his Council of Rebels explore the imperial archives in increasing disbelief. The Star Palace contains no hair carpets, yet, rather than one planet producing them, there are more than ten thousand! More incredibly yet, all the carpets are shipped to a planet that no longer appears on any imperial star chart and cannot be located in space!That such a magnum opus has been allowed to languish in the shadows for ten years (it first appeared in 1995) is damning evidence of how parochial SF publishing can be. Even more astounding, it was Eschbach's debut.

Product Details

Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date:
Edition description:
First Edition
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Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.68(d)

Meet the Author

Andreas Eschbach was born 1959 in Ulm, Germany. In 1996, his first novel, Die Haarteppichknüpfer (The Hair Carpet Makers), won one of the highest awards of German science fiction, the SFCD-Literaturpreis. His second novel, Solarstation, won the other great German science fiction award, the Kurd Laßwitz Preis. His third novel, Jesus Video, won both of them, became a nationwide bestseller in 2000, and was turned into a movie in 2002.

His first translation into another language was in 1998, when Die Haarteppichknüpfer was published in France as Des milliards des tapis de cheveux. It was not only the first German science fiction novel to be published in France after 18 years, it also won two literary prizes in France and Belgium. Several novels and short stories have been translated since then, into French, Italian, Czech, Japanese, Russian, and Turkish.

Eschbach currently lives on the French Atlantic coast with his family.

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The Carpet Makers 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
PhoenixFalls More than 1 year ago
This is the sort of science fiction that's perfect to hand to someone who says they never read science fiction -- sure, it's set in the future, and there are space ships, and we visit a couple of different planets in a vast interstellar empire, but that's ultimately just a slightly-more-exotic-than-usual setting for a story about some very human people whose lives touch because they each in some way illuminate the central mystery. Each chapter is told from a different character's perspective, and within the 10-15 pages devoted to that character Eschbach is able to give the reader a strong sense of who that character is and what his/her life is like -- and most of those lives are hard, and filled with tragedies large and small. Whether it is Eschbach's doing or the translator's, the prose is imbued with a sense of distance that makes those tragedies bearable -- and were it not for that sense of distance I would have had to put the book down several times to cry. But the book isn't about those tragedies; each one is presented not for pathos but because it gives the reader (and soon, some of the characters) clues about the purpose behind the hair carpets. As we delve deeper into the mystery the plotting becomes more complex and the scope widens -- we begin to sense the vast sweeps of history and the passions behind them. The book does lose a little of its focus in a couple chapters -- three of the perspectives ended up almost totally extraneous to the final resolution. But the resolution itself is horrifying, and all the more potent because of the dryness of the narration. This is a book that lingers long past the final page, and one which feels far richer than 300 pages has a right to be. I am immensely glad that it was translated into English.
harstan More than 1 year ago
The economy of Planet G-101/2 in the Gheera galaxy is a primogenitary constructed around artisans who stitch carpets one knit at a time from the hair of their spouses. The creation is bone wearying taking a lifetime to complete one carpet that is sold so that the carpet-maker¿s son can live on the proceeds while stitching his carpet for his son, etc. The finished products are transported by royal ships to the off world Star Palace of the most revered and feared immortal Emperor Alexander................... Word reaches G-101/2 that the Emperor Alexander was deposed and probably dead and that his empire crumbled. On Central World in Alexander¿s Star Palace the Council of Rebels are stunned to find no hair-based carpets. They are even further shocked when they audit the records in the royal archives to learn that ten thousand plus planets have been stitching hair based carpets for millenniums with the finished products going to a planet that does not appear on the celestial charts. The Council has no idea where this orb is or why Alexander established such a manufacturing hub and spoke system, but they plan to learn why..................... THE CARPET MAKERS is a fabulous outer space tale that though written ten years ago satires the global economy with the family based cottage industry that is all over the galaxy through generation after generation. The story line contains two intriguing mysteries of where is the planet that apparently has stored a zillion hairy carpets and why this system. Although no character seems fully developed, readers will appreciate the irony and wonder if the new economy saves social security by not allowing anyone to retire while their oldest offspring inherits the job................. Harriet Klausner
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