The Carpet Makers

Andreas Eschbach

Tor Books



Trade Paperback

304 Pages



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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.

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.

Told with the skill and subtlety of a seasoned writer, The Carpet Makers is a debut novel teeming with mind expanding ideas and unforgettable characters. With a special Introduction by Orson Scott Card.


Praise for The Carpet Makers

"This is a novel of ideas that evokes complex emotions through the working out of an intricate and ultimately satisfying plot, with echoes of Gene Wolfe, Ursula Le Guin and Isaac Asimov. The smooth English translation is by Doryl Jensen."—Gerald Jonas, The New York Times

"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."—Kirkus Reviews

"Enthusiastically introduced by no less than Orson Scott Card, this far-future novel does credit to everyone concerned, starting with its German author. A barren, isolated planet's whole economy turns around weaving carpets, allegedly for the emperor's palace, out of the hair of the weavers' wives. Although a weaver must have several wives to make his particular carpet, he may have only one son, who becomes his successor when he finishes his carpet and dies. Then the empire falls, creating a classic situation of a static society having to change—a theme heavily but not always well used in sf and fantasy. Eschbach records both the lead-up to it and the change from the viewpoints of many well-drawn characters, eventually affording a panorama of the rebels' becoming resistant to change themselves and revealing the secret of the carpets. Despite being broken into short episodes, the novel is one fluidly integrated story. If others of his books are as well translated in the future, Eschbach is likely to become an international phenomenon."—Roland Green, Booklist

"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 . . . [Orson Scott] Card fans will enjoy the large-scale world building and historical detail."—Publishers Weekly

"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

"With his first work Eschbach shows that the German SF is not dead."—Olive Faulhaber

"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

"Andreas Eschbach is a phenomenon."—Lesen & Leute

"Eschbach: take it and read it."—Frank Schirrmacher, FAZ

"Andreas Eschbach is incontestably the shooting star of the German SF scene."—Heyne Science Fiction Yearbook

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

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 ch
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