Maybe I missed it - but was there any explanation of the type of matter or structure it has?

3 Answers 3


It's described in the book as

a set of free-floating instructions designed to adapt to and guide other replicating systems

So, it's kind of like a virus or even more like a computer virus. That makes it substrate-independent. In other words, just information.

  • 1
    That actually makes a lot of sense. It's kinda like how we could still exist after a brain upload. Jan 11, 2017 at 14:44
  • 1
    Right, but is it really just a molecule? where does it store all that information? (Although the TV show has that nano-informatics guy who, I expect, was intent on answering this very question) Or is it more like a virus, with structures for information storage and delivery? (Abbadon's Gate describes some of the self-replicators used by the Ring Builders as utilizing transuranic elements in their molecular structures) So perhaps it is some complex molecule that stores information at some sub-atomic level...? Jul 9, 2018 at 9:12

It's semi-sentient, replicating, shape-shifting handwavium that's been created by an ancient alien life-form. Abaddon's Gate has the most interaction with the protomolecule substance so far in the series of books.

The background behind it's purpose and origin isn't really explored to any real depth other than having the characters deal with it.

  • 2
    I suggest you replace Wikipedia by TV Tropes, for more fun Jan 11, 2017 at 14:55
  • 1
    @Gallifreian well, there goes my evening.
    – Petersaber
    Jan 18, 2017 at 21:22
  • @Petersaber - I don't get what's so attractive on that site, it's just a list of works! Jan 19, 2017 at 8:35

Alien, non-human lifeform that absorbs all kinds of energy including nuclear and seeks to overtake any other organisms by transforming them and learning from them. A captured body is not killed but rather infected and modified to accommodate the protomolecule mass. It learns from a captured body and computers too by accessing and processing all memories and information. A captured entity becomes one with the protomolecule which operates as a single being and consciousness unless a part is separated and taken away.

  • 2
    Can you provide any sources to strengthen your answer?
    – Edlothiad
    Apr 14, 2017 at 2:45
  • 2
    A molecule can do all this?
    – Blackwood
    Apr 14, 2017 at 3:17

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.