The Hair Carpet Weavers by Andreas Eschbach reviewed

The Hair Carpet Weavers Book Cover The Hair Carpet Weavers
Andreas Eschbach
Science Fiction
Penguin Press UK – Allen Lane, Particular, Pelican, Penguin Classics
August 06, 2020

In the dusty wastes of a far-flung planet, strange artisans toil. Like their fathers before them, they tie intricate knots out of the hair of their wives and daughters, slowly forming carpets. Delicate and unique, each carpet requires an entire lifetime of work - and all will be sold to pave the Emperor's palace.
Then, one day, the empire falls. Soon, strange men begin to arrive from the stars, in search of the carpets' true destination. What they discover will astonish them all...

Combining brilliant world-building with an irresistible sense of mystery, Andreas Eschbach's acclaimed space opera is also a compelling meditation on faith, fundamentalism and the meaning of life itself

In The Hair Carpet Weavers by Andreas Eschbach there is a planet where fathers spend their lives making hair carpets. They only use the finest hair from their wives and daughters. Towards the end of their lives the carpets are sold and are said to enhance the glory of the Emperor’s palace. The money effectively keeps their families going until the son completes his hair carpet. However there are stories of strange men who say that the empire has fallen and the Emperor is dead. This must be heresy mustn’t it?

So starts the first story in The Hair Carpet Weavers. I found it was engaging and deceptively simple. The writing in this is very good – in passing kudos to the translator too as this can make or break a book. The stories are here are “woven” too and the more you read the more of the bigger picture you see. This widening of the viewpoint builds steadily. The setting appears to be a post apocalyptic one. The Empire and the Emperor are all encompassing – but are they really still there? And why does the Emperor really want all the hair carpets?

The narrative is non linear narrative which left me puzzled sometimes. Not all the stories were equally good for me either. Those that did though were very good. This really was quite unlike any other Sci-Fi books that I’ve read although I must confess it is a genre I only dip into from time to time. The Hair Carpet Weavers is an unusual book with a lyrical feel to the writing and the stories. This is not an action packed thriller – the brain is far more useful than ray guns! While I do not consider this one of the best books I’ve read I really enjoyed reading it. If you are looking for something a little different in Sci-Fi this rather strange book is well worth considering. 4.5/5

Note – I received an advance digital copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair review