I was from a wikipedia article. Humans discover a primitive race of aliens that are very small, whose sense of time is much more accelerated. Communication with the aliens can take hours for humans, but lifetimes for the aliens. The aliens see the humans as gods.

As the alien goes on with their progression in history, they reach a point where their technology is more advanced than humans.

I think the story is based on snapshot POV's of historical figures in the alien's history.

  • Was this set on the surface of a neutron star? I recall a story like that, but can't recall much else. Dec 19, 2019 at 20:01
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    @MikeHarris Looks like DavidW found the one you're thinking of.
    – Rand al'Thor
    Dec 19, 2019 at 20:01
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    Worth noting that this is a very common theme in scifi. I think the first example is Microcosmic God from1941, but I wouldn't be surprised to hear that was based on something else. More recently, it was the basis for an episode of Love, Death and Robots, "Ice Age", which I would argue is the best of the series (by far IMHO). Dec 19, 2019 at 20:47
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    @Maury Yep. "Microcosmic God" pops up in people's almost-consciousness and questions almost as often as "Nightfall" or "Harrison Bergeron". Except for "discovering" of someone's POV, the them matches. Dec 20, 2019 at 1:04
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    Star Trek did it too 😉
    – Erlkoenig
    Dec 20, 2019 at 5:19

1 Answer 1


This is almost definitely Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward; the primitive (very briefly) race are the cheela and they live on the surface of a neutron star.

Paperback cover of Dragon's Egg

The cheela - who are described as the size of a sesame seed - live approximately a million times faster than humans, with a lifespan (for us) of about 40 minutes. From the human point of view the story takes place over just a few weeks as the cheela advance from hunter-gatherers to a galactic-civilization and then, somehow, leave. In exchange for the information that the human expedition transmitted that kick-started their civilization they leave a copy of everything they learned, but encoded so that humanity can only access bits of it at a time.

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    Forward also wrote a sequel to this called Starquake; the two together should really be considered a single story, as Starquake picks up exactly where Dragon's Egg left off, and continues the story of the cheela. Dec 19, 2019 at 20:05
  • Don't know if this is the story OP was looking for, but it's definitely the one I remember! Dec 19, 2019 at 20:29
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    And if so, a dupe of scifi.stackexchange.com/questions/84562/…
    – FuzzyBoots
    Dec 19, 2019 at 20:40
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    Except the OP asks about a short story, not a novel. Though it is possible he misremembers. Dec 20, 2019 at 9:08
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    It may also be possible that the OP read an abridged version? Dec 20, 2019 at 17:43

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