A fun sci fi written in 1980, about a very small neutron star that has …. gasp! …… a sentient, intelligent species on it. Because the star had such strong magnetic lines, and extreme gravity, the creatures were flat. I continued to picture them as snails without shells.
Here’s the book’s description:
Dragon’s Egg was a neutron star, an incredibly dense sphere only twenty kilometers in diameter, with a surface fravity sixty-seven billion times that of earth. No human could ever land on such a star. Only by the most advanced technology could science even study it.
Researchers detect intelligent life: the cheela, aliens who live so fast that one of our hours is the equivalent of more than a hundred yhears to them. The cheela struggle from savagery to science in a span of days (human days).
The cheela are flat, amoeba-type creatures about 2.5 mm in radius, and 0.5 mm high, with a density of 7 million g/cc.
After making contact through light pulses signals, the scientists begin to send down data about technology. Since it takes weeks for even a human sentence to be completed according to the cheela’s speeded-up time perception, they have plenty of time to study the information, gradually evolving over generations to develop a technology even greater than the humans. All this takes only about 4 human days.
It was a truly intriguing concept for me, the vast disparity between the time lived and how the two species managed to communicate and develop relationships. It was a wonderful break from the typical space opera battles and betrayals and ill-will between species and planets.
But. In the sequel, a starquake rocks Dragon’s Egg, decimating the cheela. On the surface, the few survivors fight to stay alive. Meanwhile, in orbit above the star, their human friends face a dreadful choice: return to earth and let this alien race risk extinction, or remain to help and possibly, maybe certainly, die in the attempt.