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Dragon's Egg

(Cheela #1)

4.14  ·  Rating details ·  7,254 ratings  ·  475 reviews
"In science fiction there is only a handful of books that stretch the mind--and this is one of them."--Arthur C. Clarke

In a moving story of sacrifice and triumph, human scientists establish a relationship with intelligent lifeforms--the cheela--living on Dragon's Egg, a neutron star where one Earth hour is equivalent to hundreds of their years. The cheela culturally evol
Paperback, 352 pages
Published February 29th 2000 by Del Rey Books (first published May 1980)
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Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Classic Hardcore Hard-SF. :)

Really hardcore, even, written by an astrophysicist and wild with the worldbuilding. :) It's the concept that shines. Think about the extended growth of a people from hunters and gatherers all the way to a massively accomplished civilization in the space of a single novel and add a little wrinkle: this happens in the space of how long it takes us for apes to notice a neutron star passing through our Solar System, to put together an expedition, and then to throw scient
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Manny by: Roger Penrose
TIME: 06:32:46.1 GMT APRIL 1 1978

"I have researched it in every detail!" t'trummed Sky-Talker, as she waved her front manipulators impatiently. "For five greats of turns, I have done nothing else! You say that there is no way to communicate with the Slow Ones? Well, you are wrong!"

"But I still don't understand," answered Cautious-Careful. "This plan of putting a - what's it called, 'novel'? - in the mind of a Slow One... I'm sorry, it won't work! They will never understand our world. Our nucleo
Algernon (Darth Anyan)
May 18, 2016 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
Oct 14, 2007 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
Manuel Antão
Oct 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 1991
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

High Gauss EM Field: "Dragon's Egg" by Robert L. Forward

(Original Review, 1991)

I just got around to reading DRAGON'S EGG. It is probably one of the best hard science fiction novels I've ever read. I thought the human characterization was weak in places (not enough introspection, lack of diversity of characters), but clearly Bob knows about the scientific establishment! Actually, I thought that the alien characters were better drawn.

Liz Janet
Aug 23, 2014 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 26, 2015 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.
Sep 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favourites, sci-fi
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
Jared Millet
Oh that was painful, but I finished it for my book club, and for science. And make no mistake: the science in this book is mind-bendingly excellent. Robert L. Forward's ideas (life on a neutron star, contact between cultures who exist at different time-scales, etc) are the kind of top-notch speculation that makes science fiction great.

But his writing is dreadful beyond belief.

I have never come across a writer in such desperate need of a co-author. Seriously, this book reads as if it were written
Lucie Simone
Mar 06, 2011 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! ...more
New Year Resolution

Avoid Roger Penrose's 'I loved this' shelf.

I dare say all the positive reviews of this are right, but it's not for me.
Jan 21, 2018 rated it liked it
My favorite aspect of this book is the time compression between the humans and the Cheela. It reminds me of a passage in The Indian in the Cupboard where "normal" sized Omri prepares a campfire for the tiny Indian with which to warm himself and to cook a tiny chunk of meat. As an eight-year-old child, I was bothered by this because I had a good idea that the tiny size of the fire meant that it would burn out quickly, e.g. it wouldn't burn all night long or for a period of time suitable for its i ...more
Peter Cawdron
Dec 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Speculative science fiction at its best! Imagines how life might evolve on a neutron star and, due to relativistic effects of heavy gravity, in a very different timeframe to our own.
Mar 08, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fiction, 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
Amun (Mohamed Elbadwihi)
“Go in a direction others do not go.”

I'm ashamed to say that I'd never heard of Robert Forward before being introduced to this wonderful book. Huge thanks to my friend Cassy for dragging me out of that hole of ignorance!

Dragon’s Egg is the story of the cheela, a civilization of tiny beings that evolved on the surface of Egg, a neutron star.

The 67-billion-g surface gravity of Egg and its spin rate of over 1000 revolutions per second pose unique difficulties for the inhabitants of the star. We
Nov 05, 2011 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
Steve Walker
A classic "hard" sf novel and a very unique first contact novel. Over 30 years old it is still an amazing read. ...more
Andrej Karpathy
Apr 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
This book must absolutely be commended for its inventiveness, while staying within the limits of the scientifically plausible. Overall a very enjoyable hard scifi read, but if I had to critique some things, it would be: 1) the aliens are slightly annoyingly too human-like (would have appreciated an attempt at something more perplexing / foreign), 2) some parts of the book drag on for a very long time without being interesting (e.g. the various escapades of the cheela that take up a large portion ...more
Jan 14, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read this book probably 20 years ago (funny how I keep remembering books I read a long time ago as I try to catalog them all on Goodreads). I can't say I remember the plot in detail, but it was a really fascinating hard SF novel about intelligent life forms who live on the surface of a star. They were very alien but still believable -- Robert L. Forward did a great job of describing their environment and how the incredible heat and gravity affected them. Because of the gravitational effects, t ...more
Dec 18, 2018 rated it it was ok
Interesting book that I would have liked to give more stars to but it was really let down by the absolutely awful writing in the chapters concerning humans, just clunky exposition, excrutiatingly bad dialogue and zero characterisation (awful 1940s level female characters, EE Doc Smith wrote women better than this drivel), at least the author refrained from giving us a human sex scene, god knows how he would have handled it. The alien chapters were fun, though let down by a few plot "dead ends". ...more
This was such a surprise! One of the major benefits of being in a book club - I read books I would never have picked up on my own. I've already recommended it to a few people.

The alien society was a little too "human" for my taste, but the concept was intriguing and executed perfectly. At one point a human on the spaceship, Amalita, says something like "These 15 minute friendships really do a number on the emotions." And they really do. Apparently, the humans in this future have never heard of t
Apr 04, 2011 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!
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Thank you Mr. Forward for creating this an amazing world. The Dragon's Egg, a dense neutron star with a 20-km radius, whose gravity is 6.7 billion G. Imagine how life might evolve in an extreme environment like that. That is the essence of this book : to imagine how life might evolve in the Dragon's Egg and how it might interact with human contact.

The events depicted in this book is plausible. I can imagine the Cheela to be how they are in this book. I can imagine how they evolve and how they i
Dec 06, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
Discovery of a neutron star and discovery of alien that is unique in a very extreme way. Is it possible for life to form in an environment with a few BILLION Gs? It is apparently. I must say I'm very impressed by the author's creativity. ...more
Alexander Temerev
Mar 31, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A stereotypical “hard sci-fi”, more interesting for the ideas and the exploration of physics than the plot and its progression. Somewhat flat, but it is this book that defined the genre, so I was happy to read it.
Neil Fleck
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Maybe the best hard scifi I've ever read. Starts off a bit slow, but the crazy, well thought out detail of the alien world is downright exhilarating by the end. ...more
Sep 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: scifi
Great concept but the clunky writing and a gloss over of how exactly human language could be deciphered irks me just a bit.
Dragon's Egg is a story assembled out of a few disparate parts. There's the formation of a neutron star from a supernova, the discovery of said star by astronomers in 2020, an expedition to said star... and then there's what's happening on the surface of the neutron star, which proceeds through several different arcs.

That last, of course, is where the main imaginative elements of the novel come from. Incredibly, this is an exercise in hard SF, with the main speculative part dealing with the idea
Apr 17, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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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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These twelve books are so consistently adored, they have become regulars month after month in our data of most popular and most read books on...
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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.” 16 likes
“Seiko slowly opened one eye. “Don’t be concerned, Doctor Wong, I was merely checking the tidal compensation,” she said, slightly annoyed at being interrupted. “At 406 kilometers from the neutron star, the tidal gravity gradient should be 101 gees per meter. Even though my middle is in free-fall, my arms, legs and head try to go in different orbits. My feet are one meter closer to the star and should feel a pull of 202 gees. My head is one meter further than my middle and should also feel a pull of 202 gees, while my arms should feel a push of 101 gees.” 0 likes
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