The Hair Carpet Weavers • 1995 • SF novel by Andreas Eschbach

★★★★★

The Hair Carpet Weavers

German SF books? You don’t see them very often translated to a broader public in English.

I’ve read Eschbach’s Das Jesus Video before, which is a kind of time-travel story, and very well-known in Germany – it even has been adapted as a film.

The novel’s structure hooked me right from the the start, as it is structured as connected short stories. It might even be called an anthology of stories in a common setting building up a plot. This is an interesting connection to Trafalgar by Gorodischer, which happens to be part of Penguin’s new Classics imprint, as Trafalgar is also a narration consisting of several short stories.

The plot is centered around the eponymous carpets. Material for the carpets is human hair – the hair of the weaver’s daughters and wifes. They need a whole life to weave one single carpet as an act of devotion to a God-Emperor who ruled his galaxy-wide empire for some 80,000 years.
The stories plant spotlights with different point of views around that business: The weavers, the merchants, the space transporters etc.

The stories are connected not only concerning their common setting but also by sharing characters – some characters show up in two or three stories.
This might be an issue for readers who are more used to one single protagonist driving a linear story.

In summary, I loved the short-story form, the involved characters, the topics and the ending. It’s been translated into several languages, and the last time for an English publication has been more than ten years ago. It is well-time to bring this excellent book back into readers’ attention.

Meta: isfdb. Publication Date 06.08.2020 by Penguin Classics. There is an interesting background anecdote concerning the novel’s history (it is in German, though).

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13 Responses to The Hair Carpet Weavers • 1995 • SF novel by Andreas Eschbach

  1. proxyfish says:

    Another one I hadn’t heard of! Like Trafalgar, this also sounds like an interesting read… although for some reason I feel a little ill thinking of all that hair! 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. proxyfish says:

    Very true and I’m glad to hear it’s written so beautifully! 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Ola G says:

    Thanks for the recommendation – I’ll be keeping an eye on it and checking my library stores!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. bormgans says:

    Strange premise. Intruiging. Is that Picasso on the cover?

    I’m checking this out!

    Like

  5. Alex Good says:

    Looking forward to this. The new Penguin Classic SF is starting out with an interesting line-up.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Your review made me want to re-read this book, when I read it I was completely new to the short story format but, I have a feeling I would like it more now!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Andreas says:

      Your comment gives me some ideas. Just speaking out of my guts: in school, we mostly read and analyse short stories – at least where I‘m coming from. Many are happy to leave school memories and don’t come back to this format. Or don’t even know that there are interesting short works in their favorite genre. And then they get so accustomed to doorstoppers that short stories feel wrong.
      Hm, maybe I should write an essay 😂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Oh that’s interesting! In France, we usually study novels, I discovered short stories on my own when I was about 16 and at first, I wasn’t a huge fan of the format (everything felt too short). Now, I love short fiction. I’m always reading a collection of short stories or a magazine issue, I don’t see myself ever going back to only reading novel-length stories!
        Maybe you should! (I would definitely read it haha)

        Liked by 1 person

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