Starquake by Robert L. Forward
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
This sequel to Dragon's Egg picks up right after the first... which is already rather extraordinary for regular time-constraint purposes.
Just imagine first-contact with little super-dense and fast-living aliens living on a neutron star passing through our Solar System. Now imagine how fast they live: one-million times faster than we do. Civilizations rise and fall in a single day. Technological breakthroughs, cultural revolutions, vast discoveries, and vaster falls can happen in the space of moments.
This happened in the first book. A week for us saw the Chela try to interpret the super slow movements of gods in the sky, go through revolutions, scientific breakthroughs, and finally society capable of waiting for whole generations to speak a few words to us. :)
Add to that some pretty awesome science on both sides done realistic enough to surprise the crap out of me, end the book on a really high note of a new alien civilization having taken all our combined knowledge to take it further than we ever dreamed... and then give us book two. :)
This is where we begin... and within a day, the massively amazing technologically broken-through society, even now fulfilling a dream of time-travel... falls.
Easy come? Easy go. The fall and the redemption of both their species and the fate of our astronauts. So fun. :)
My only complaint? The Chela may look weird and have VERY strange biology, but psychologically they're pretty much exactly like us.
Fortunately, the science and the ideas more than make up for this slight flaw. :)
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