Oh, the tedium of our lives. Waking up, staggering to the bathroom, brushing our teeth, showering, dressing, stumbling out the door to work or school, sitting all day at an uncomfortable desk...
You have no idea.
In Andreas Eschbach's science fiction novel The Carpet Makers, there are artisans who spend their entire lives weaving carpets from the hair of their wives and daughters, thread by thread, morning to night, marriage to death. This holy chore in service to the Emperor provides rugs for the grand palace of a vast interstellar empire, and the entire economy of many planets depends on it.
Until the Emperor dies, of course, and a new government must free these enslaved planets and discover the true purpose of the carpets that never made it to the imperial palace.
What would you do if you found out that everything you've lived and worked for is nothing like you've been told?
Such is the dilemma of the characters in The Carpet Makers. The story passes adeptly from character to character, chapter to chapter, story to story, as we watch fascinating people of all kinds struggle for freedom and meaning against the inertia of history. Some are rebels against the status quo, others are loyalists to the way things have always worked. They live, they struggle, they inquire...all in pursuit of the truth.
None of them can take the value of their existence on faith anymore, and this novel is an excellent reminder that the duty of an intelligent person is to ask questions and resist assumptions. Change, even of the smallest kind, can overwhelm us all without any warning, and it is the adaptable and inquisitive who survive.
Beautifully written, clear and compelling, The Carpet Makers is an old-school science fiction story full of fascinating cultures and far-flung ideas, the kind that keep you thinking long after reading it -- perhaps about just what the woven carpets of your life are really for.