This is qualified as hard sci-fi, although being written in 1980, some of the science is slightly out of date, although not badly. In the not-too-distant future, researchers at Caltech discover a star closer to Earth than any other, located just below the constellation Draco, hence the name Drgon's Egg. It's a neutron star--a collapsed star that is very, very small (about 20km across) and dense and not very bright. A few generations later humans send out a manned spaceship to investigate it more closely. What they discover shocks and amazes them: intelligent life on the surface of the star! Most of the story is told from the point of view of the cheela, the lifeforms on Dragon's Egg. How does life survive in a place with so much gravity that molecules can't even exist? This book is similar to Hal Clement's "Mission of Gravity" (written in 1953) only moreso. A very good read with lots of interesting science (including a 20-page appendix for more details) and lots of ideas to think about long after you're done reading. This book has a sequel, "Starquake," which I look forward to reading.
For those of you out there into sci-fi and who love a good other worldly novel...you may enjoy this book. Back reads: "Men could never live on such a star; only by the most advanced technology can humans exist in synchronous orbit to observe it. The sirface gravity is an incredible sixty-seven billion times that of Earth, with matter so compressed that the mass of a normal star is packed into a crusted sphere only twenty kilometers in diameter. A magnic field 2 trillion times that of Earth distorts the nuclei in the crust and out normal chemical reactions are replaced by neutron reactions. Yet on this impossible world, men detect intellegent life- the cheela, who live so fast the one of our hours is like 100 years in a human life. And as we follow the cheela, they struggle from savagery thru the beginings of agriculture and to the discovery of science. In this moving story we watch them establish contect with the humans orbiting above them. And for a time, men are their teachers. For a brief time...."
Wondering what life on a 65 billion G Neutron Star is like?, December 6, 2005
Reviewer: Josh J. Riley
Ever wonder what life would be like on a 60 billion gravity Neutron Star? Right, probably not. Well, this guy did. And, he wrote a really good story about it.
Dragon's Egg tells a wildly imaginative story of the Cheela, a species of creature that lives on a neutron star. As a consequence of living on a neutron star, molecular chemistry and life itself advances at a rate millions of times faster than us humans are used to. The book tells their story from the Cheela's absolute beginnings when life began on the star all the way to their achievement of becoming sentient beings. In this way, the author makes many interesting and funny parallels to how humans may have evolved from primordial slime to what we are now.
The story focuses on the Cheela, but also includes the side-story of a group of space-exploring humans who happen to be in orbit around the Cheela's home star taking studies. What the humans don't realize is that their presence in the night sky has caused great influence on the Cheela; most notably their ever changing religious beliefs. When the Cheela finally make contact with their supposed human-Gods, they have more to teach them than the humans have to teach the Cheela.
A really fun, imagination-expanding read.
Was not at all what I expected, and was very hard to get into. The style of writing is very disjointed and fails to pull you in to the story itself. It's more like reading science notes, and while I love science, it felt really lacking as far as depth and emotional involvement.
A daring adventure to study a neutron star finds an unlikely new lifeform. Cheelas are creatures that resemble amoebas and live 100 years within every human hour. So, within the timespan of the human exploration circling their star, the cheelas live for generations, initiating agriculture, fighting wars, giving the observation of the spacecraft religious significance, and much, much more. What is so incredible about this book is its basis in real scientific speculation by an author who is a astrophysicist, Robert Forward. The descriptions of gravitational forces and what it would take for lifeforms to survive is lifelike. This book is not only a story well told but an adventure in science.