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Dragon's Egg (Cheela #1)

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  4,087 Ratings  ·  214 Reviews
In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent life forms--the cheela--living on Dragon's Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evolve from savagery to the discovery of science, and for a brief time men are their diligent teachers.
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Del Rey Books (first published May 1980)
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Mike Cooper
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Revelation Space by Alastair ReynoldsThe Martian by Andy WeirFoundation by Isaac AsimovRingworld by Larry NivenA Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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May 22, 2016 Algernon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016

Whose afraid of the 'science' part of the science-fiction equation? If you liked "The Martian" for the way Andy Weir communicates his enthusiasm for technology and science, get ready to (re)discover a hardcore classic of the genre. How hard? you might ask.

Although many times hotter than the Sun, the neutron star was not a hot ball of gas. Instead, the 67-billion-gee gravity field of the star had compressed its blazing matter into a solid ball with a thick crust of close-packed, neutron-ri
Mar 27, 2008 Robert rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Any lover of pure, excellent SF
Dragon's Egg has nothing to do with dragons -- the dragon's egg is a neutron star being visited by humans who are suspending themselves in a stationary orbit by means of a propulsion laser.

The laser light falls to and illuminates a small portion of the surface of the star. As it happens, the surface of the star has a "crust" of highly degenerate nuclear material, at densities and pressures that enable exotic nucleochemistry to occur -- nuclei with extended shape and structure that are "weakly" b
Jul 15, 2014 Tfitoby rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi, favourites
Once in a while, a novel appears that has everything unique to science fiction - a brilliant new idea, honest extrapolation of real science, a gripping story with fascinating alien characters, and the indefinable but essential sense of wonder. Not my words, an unattributed quote on the back on my paperback, but between that and Arthur C. Clarke's pull quote on the front, "Forward's book is a knockout. In science fiction there is only a handful of books that stretch the mind - and this is one of ...more
Liz BooksandStuff
Jan 20, 2016 Liz BooksandStuff rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Of all of the greatest science-fiction books written at the time of this novel, this one seems to be one that is not as popular, or as read as it should be. It is a novel that explores so much more than many popular series.
Now that that is out of the way let us get something else out of the way too, this book is neither about eggs, nor is it about dragons, it is about a scientific discovery of a race called the cheela who live in a neutron star, the surface gravity it has, leads for them to be
May 06, 2014 Jon added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Jon by: Beyond Reality March 2011 SciFi Selection
Nov 13, 2011 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a fascinating, serious consideration of what life would be like on a neutron star. Given the gravity in such an environment turns everything into degenerate matter, molecules complex enough to support biology form by atomic nuclei sharing neutrons rather than electrons. Furthermore, the author postulates that in this high energy/density environment the creatures that have evolved here have a much higher rate of metabolism. One million times ours in fact - so that we get to see in ju ...more
Lucie Simone
Mar 06, 2011 Lucie Simone rated it really liked it
I don't read much Sci-fi, but my brother bought me this book for my birthday, so I gave it a go. Aside from the setting being on a distant star and the main characters being tiny alien creatures, this book is really a study about the evolution of a species and its society. I was rapt by the developments these beings made as they progressed through their ultra short lifespans, creating religions, laws, philosophies and superstitions. A fascinating read!
Mar 27, 2014 Philipp rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
Humankind discovers a close neutron star where extreme gravity rules, and intelligent (small) life has developed. Since the star spins so fast, "time" on the star progresses faster for the lifeforms - about 15 human minutes are one of their generation. A large part of the book focuses on the developments on the planet, and how the Cheela develop from stone age-like warriors to space-travellers surpassing humans.

This is hard SF with a focus on physics, and by hard I mean hard to the point of unr
Alright, here's the basic gist: intelligent life lives on a planet that rotates five times per second. Because of the speed of rotation, gravity is very strong, and the life forms come out very unusual. Meanwhile, we Earthlings have discovered this asteroid, and send a research team to check it out.

The thing is, not only do these creatures live on a quickly spinning planet, they LIVE faster than we do. They think faster, age faster, and develop faster. For each Earthling 15 minute period, a gen
Apr 10, 2011 Gendou rated it it was amazing
This is "hard" science fiction, my favorite kind.
The plot is driven by believable, yet imaginative, consequences of physical laws.
What's important to me in an SF novel is that things make sense.
I love it when I get the feeling that the story is how it has to be.
This book is a perfect example.
Astrophysics sets the scene, and the characters do the discovering along side the reader.
It's so much fun!
Jan 19, 2010 Elgin rated it it was amazing
Shelves: science-fiction
This book really blew me away. It is one of the most imaginative and amazing stories I have read. Furthermore, Forward is a scientist with JPL so his science in the story is right on. His follow up, Star Quake was also pretty good, but nothing he wrote after that did much for me.
Dec 07, 2015 ATreads rated it really liked it
Shelves: favorites
Some part of my conscience is scolding me for giving this one 4 stars, but I have to do it. At times, the scientific jargon is mind-numbing. And as a Christian, I'm pretty sure I don't agree with Forward's implied view of religion in general.

But it's an awesome premise that sustained my attention nonetheless. It takes some patience to get through the first 50 pages or so...There are a few conversations and narrations that leave you pretty certain they are not speaking English. The electromagneti
Feb 06, 2014 Thomas rated it it was amazing
This is a surprisingly good novel of hard science fiction. VERY hard science fiction. The author described it as "a textbook on neutron star physics disguised as a novel." That is, indeed, what it feels like sometimes. An important difference, however, is that large parts of the book are taken up in the adventures of the cheela (aliens) who mark important accomplishments along the path of the cheela into contact with humans. There are many long chapters dealing with battles between cheela clans, ...more
Andreas Meyer
Jun 08, 2016 Andreas Meyer rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sehr schöner recht kompakter Roman. Eine bestechende Idee, gut ausgeführt. Wie in so vielen Scifi-Roman hätte mir auch hier ein bisschen mehr Atmosphäre und Emotionen gefallen. Andererseits passt keine Charakter-Story zu diesem Plot. Das ist jetzt Nörgeln auf hohem Niveau. Das Büchlein bekommt meine Empfehlung.
Jul 06, 2016 Liontinx rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Realmente interesante. A veces no me enteraba cuando se ponía a explicar cosas sobre la física de la estrella de neutrones y tal, por desgracia, y no es un libro que enganche por estar lleno de acción o una trama emocionante. Es simplemente curioso ver como se va desarrollando la vida y la sociedad en la estrella.
Stephen Bennett
Dec 25, 2014 Stephen Bennett rated it it was amazing
I like SciFi that has a firm foundation in real science, and Forward delivers this in spades with his book about life that evolves on the surface of a Neutron star. Humanity stumbles on the nearly invisible stellar remnant as it passes near earth, and we send an expedition to study the star before it flies past us.

The evolving intelligent life lives at roughly a million times our rate, and exists and thrives in an environment literally too crushing for us to imagine. We follow these creatures f
May 28, 2015 Adrian rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
On the one hand, here we've got an extremely interesting high-concept sci-fi story — quite "hard" sci-fi up until they get so advanced as to be incomprehensible — written by a real physicist and aerospace engineer.

On the other hand … well, it also reads like it was written by a physicist, and not by an author. Every sentence is short and simple (unless it's detailing a scientific concept), to the point where I felt the need to check to make sure this wasn't meant to be a book for young children.
Peter Bensen
Nov 08, 2015 Peter Bensen rated it really liked it
This was a formative book for me. There aren't many books that deal with aliens like these and I enjoyed Mr. Forward's treatment of the subject. It is a first contact story. It begged lots of questions for me, and I wished he wrote more about his characters. I really liked that the theme and arc of the story was simple but fascinating. It could so easily have been a boring topic. I don't want to give anything away, but I really recommend you read it sometime. There are not so many stories like t ...more
Simona Vesela
Mar 28, 2016 Simona Vesela rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Keby som len mohla dať viacej hviezičiek ako 5. Niektoré diela sú také, že sa nad nimi človek pozastaví. Majú hlbokú myšlienku o medziľudských vzťahoch, etike, filozofii. Ale niektoré knihy, také čo presahujú nad planétu Zem, a zostanú vám v podvedomí roky,tie sú to, čo je pre mňa fascinujúce :) . Pomimo tejto knihy to boli knihy od najmä Grega Egana, Azimova.
Na neutrónovej hviezde sa vyvinú číli, čo žijú 10^6 krát rýchlejšie ako ľudia, majú síce veľmi ľudské problémy, ale svoje unikátne riešen
Rob Daly
This was an important book in my progress as a science fiction reader. Some of the concepts were brand new to me at the time, and I found the development of the story fascinating due to Forward's easy integration of hard Sci Fi elements into a plot that's easy to follow, yet not exactly predictable. There are some fundamental questions asked here, like "how do we define life?" and "Would life in a radically different form still share some of the drives and ask some of the same questions we ask o ...more
Jul 03, 2015 Eric rated it really liked it
Prepare to experience the heartstopping action of blobs poking each other with sharp rocks, cheer blob pioneers climbing "impossibly high" cliffs merely twice their own height, blush at the suggestive nuances of seeing a blob's dorsal surface, and weep at the death of a blob prophet spreading the religious ecstasy of a lidar mapper.

Who knew the narrative of the entire civilization of alien amoebas would be so fascinating? I was annoyed each time it had to cut to the humans. While I admit I could
Richard Laxton
Feb 25, 2013 Richard Laxton rated it really liked it
A very interesting read that has held up well over the years.

While the cultural development of the Cheela seemed to be a little anthropomorphic, the book serves to provide a interesting take on the first contact scenario.
Oct 21, 2015 Meikoyim rated it really liked it
This has been a fun journey into hard science fiction.

At times it read more like a textbook than a story. But once I got over the science-y bits and focused on the storyline it was a lot easier to let the story just flow on its own.

This was a recommendation by my boyfriend. My kindle had died before my trip and whilst I had a book I was bringing to another friend on the journey to Australia, I was dreading the return flight journey back home because I'd hate to buy a random overpriced paperback
Šimon Podhajský
Jul 21, 2015 Šimon Podhajský rated it it was amazing
Take LeGuin's Left Hand of Darkness, mix it with Clarke's Out of the Sun and the more attentive-to-physics parts of Space Odyssey, and you get Dragon's Egg. This is hard SF at its most delightful. There are wrinkles, of course -- Forward's parallels between human and cheela history are a bit too cute sometimes; he struggles when he has tp write humans; and his attempts at positive portrayal of female scientists are a little peculiar and positively 1980s.

In the big picture, though, you get to rea
Jan 17, 2014 Carl rated it it was amazing
This must be the geekiest sci-fi book ever. The author was probably beat up by the other geeks for lunch money. At times the book is filled with oceans of technical detail -- it reads like an engineering manual. There are even long appendices with complicated diagrams.

That being said, it is surely one of the most imaginative and greatest science fiction books.

The gimmick for the story is a race of intelligent creatures who live on the surface of a neutron star, and whose lives go by a million ti
Jul 14, 2014 Ben rated it it was amazing
I'm hard pressed to find a better example of hard SF that Dragon's Egg. I think I could actually feel my brain stretching to picture the world Robert L. Forward was describing. What kind of life could possibly live on the surface of a neutron star that rotates on the order of 10,000 revolutions per minute and with a gravity nearly a trillion times that of the Earth? How big would they be? How would they communicate? How would we know they're there? How could we possibly communicate and interact ...more
Jul 06, 2016 Krista rated it liked it
Shelves: helmet-scifi, 2016
Kun kirjan esipuheessa sanotaan, että "Kova tieteiskirjallisuus eli sellainen, joka todella on tieteellisesti luotettavaa, on harvinaista tavaraa. Se edellyttää kirjoittajaltaan sekä tukevaa tieteellistä pätevyyttä että vähintäänkin keskinkertaisia kirjailijan taitoja. Itse asiassa hyvin harvan tämän lajityypin kirjailijan taidot kohoavat keskinkertaisen yläpuolelle. ...ovat keskinkertaisia kirjailijoita, ja niin on myös Robert L. Forward.", ei kirja anna odottaa liikoja.

Toki mainitaan myös, ett
Pablo Flores
Jan 30, 2015 Pablo Flores rated it really liked it
They say this book is a classic of the hard science fiction genre, and indeed it deserves that title. The author himself called it “a textbook on neutron star physics disguised as a novel”; I'd say it's more like the novelization of a species' history of science and technology. It could be viewed also as a series of stories, actually, since the characters that matter change all the time. The human characters are typically (and unabashedly) made of cardboard; the crew of the first-encounter ship ...more
John Zila
Dec 19, 2014 John Zila rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is now one of my favorite hard science fiction books, up there with Forever War. The concept is very novel, and it explores several mind-bending scientific ideas that are fascinating to think about:
- the effects of ultra high gravity
- the idea of nuclear reaction "chemistry"
- non-visual primary sensory inputs
- the sociology of a society that develops 1000x faster than we do, and what it would look like to interact with such a society.

There are a few minor flaws where certain science is igno
Aurel Mihai
This reads similarly to Flatland in that it's a neat scientific idea expanded into a novel without much attention paid to the story's other aspects. Unfortunately, where Flatland is quite lean, Dragon's Egg tends to drone on. It could've been done in less than 100 pages. It could've been a novella, but nobody publishes novellas. So we have 100 pages of story and 200 pages of fluff. This nearly made me put it down before I met the inhabitants of the neutron star. I'm glad I read through the entir ...more
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Robert Lull Forward, commonly known as Robert L. Forward, (August 15, 1932 - September 21, 2002) was an American physicist and science fiction writer. His fiction is noted for its scientific credibility, and uses many ideas developed during his work as an aerospace engineer.

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Other Books in the Series

Cheela (2 books)
  • Starquake

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“After a short flurry of national and international concern over the "death of the Sun," the human race settled down to solving the insoluble problem in the best way that they knew - they ignored it and hoped it would go away.” 12 likes
“His eyes widened and he rapidly scanned page after page. There were many photographs, each followed by detailed diagrams of the internal structure of the various neutron stars. They ranged the gamut from very dense stars that were almost black holes to large bloated neutron stars that had a neutron core and a white-dwarf-star exterior. Some of the names were unfamiliar, but others, like the Vela pulsar and the Crab Nebula pulsar, were neutron stars known to the humans. “But the Crab Nebula pulsar is over 3000 light-years away!” Pierre exclaimed to himself. “They would have had to travel faster than the speed of light to have gone there to take those photographs in the past eight hours!” A quick search through the index found the answer. FASTER-THAN-LIGHT PROPULSION—THE CRYPTO-KEY TO THIS SECTION IS ENGRAVED ON A PYRAMID ON THE THIRD MOON OF THE SECOND PLANET OF EPSILON ERIDANI.” 0 likes
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