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Dragon's Egg (Del Rey Impact) Paperback – February 29, 2000
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--ARTHUR C. CLARKE
"Bob Forward writes in the tradition of Hal Clement's Mission Gravity and carries it a giant step (how else?) forward."
"Dragon's Egg is superb. I couldn't have written it; it required too much real physics."
"This is one for the real science-fiction fan."
"Robert L. Forward tells a good story and asks a profound question. If we run into a race of creatures who live a hundred years while we live an hour, what can they say to us or we to them?"
--FREEMAN J. DYSON
Author of Disturbing the Universe
"Forward has impeccable scientific credentials, and . . . big, original, speculative ideas."
--The Washington Post
From the Publisher
Wow! What a truly great book! It is so brimming with new ideas and new perspectives that it literally expands your mind. It opens your eyes to new possibilities. Every few pages draw another exclaimation of "Wow!"
I wish I could say, "I liked the book so much, I bought the company." But next best thing did happen: I became General Manager of Del Rey. (Please note that your results from reading this book may vary.) Thank you, Veronica, for this fantastic recommendation which I whole-heartedly pass along to one and all.
--Tim Kochuba, General Manager --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
If, on the other hand, the idea of aliens that really *are* alien appeals to you, this is a great read. Reading about the development of civilization in such an alien context is fascinating. There are parts where the story of the cheela becomes very compelling. Swift-Killer's Climb is nothing short of heroic (yes, something unexciting can still be heroic). The brief "Visit" between humans and Cheela is a blast.
I don't give it five stars, because the human characters *are* flat. It may well be impossible to place both truly alien beings and interesting humans in the same story (as opposed to two different, co-located stories). A separate human story would still be something, though, and it appears the author either did not even try to develop one, or failed completely. The humans are a plot device -- they give the author a reason to tell the story of the cheela, nothing more. Likewise, the human discovery of the "Egg" and the expedition reads as very contrived. Every work of fiction is contrived, of course, but good fiction keeps the reader from noticing. These drawbacks mar what would otherwise be a true masterpiece of science fiction.
While it is radical fiction, this book is based on a strong foundation in reality -- both science fact and scientific speculation. The successful combination of strict science and pure fantasy is part of what makes for great "hard sci-fi", and this book has it, in spades. It truly does "stretch the mind", as one cover blurb says.
Strangely, I also found the story to be inspirational. The aliens live their lives in fullness in their frame of reference, but a cheela lifespan is only 30 of our minutes. Reconciling those differences and establishing a conversation over many generations is, to me, a truly noble act, for humans and cheela alike. Despite the differences between them and us, the cheela are people. If I can be as good a person as the cheela in this story, I will have lived my life well.
To set the tone, picture a neutron star. This is simply one of the most hostile astronomical bodies out there, something that man can orbit only with the most sophisticated equipment and technology, but from which man could learn a lot about the universe. So, when one such star is within reach of a human spacecraft, we go.
And find life on the surface of the star.
In dealing with the development of the alien race, the Cheela, Forward has crafted a magnificent piece of SF. It's unfortunate that the sophistication that he shows in regards to these aliens doesn't quite shine through with the human characters in the story. Often the humans come off flat and a little less then interesting, but this is completely overshadowed by the Cheela. Playing with notions of relative time, alien forms of perception, and with a SF ending that puts most other "alient contact" books to shame, "Dragon's Egg" is required reading for any fan of SF.
This is not in the running for the greatest science-fiction novel ever written. And of this author's works, I personally liked Flight of the Dragonfly better. (Later expanded into Rocheworld, which I haven't read.) Dragon's Egg is , however, quite an interesting yarn taking place in one of the unlikeliest of locales. Read it and enjoy, as well as the sequel, Starquake.