In the TV series The Expanse, the protomolecule is clearly capable of feats unexplainable by the science and technology that the humans on the show possess:

  • It can make a whole asteroid vanish from radar
  • It can accelerate the said asteroid while those "onboard" (Miller) do not feel the acceleration
  • It can disassemble a ship in a split-second
  • Etc.

However, some basic laws of physics still seem to apply: it has to absorb energy (mainly radiation) in order to do work, and it can probably not decrease entropy (during the Eros incident Naomi detects a temperature rise on Eros, and makes a remark like: "At least thermodynamics still hold").

Later in the books the protomolecule opens up a way to strange and distant regions, but in the TV series the humans are as-yet unaware of this possibility.

In the first episode of the third series Holden discovers that the protomolecule on Venus and Io gave out a "cry" at the very moment the Monster was destroyed on the Rocinante. Does that mean that Holden is now avare of the relativity-violating FTL capabilities of the Protomolecule, or did he simply imply "after d/c time" by saying "in that moment"? (After all, to Expanse characters light lag is an everyday experience.)

  • en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Faster-than-light_communication As a note, people have proposed theories in which faster than light communication would be possible, although the current understanding is that none of these would actually work. However, these theories have been a staple of scifi for a long time, and so it could be that the Expanse is working under the idea that ftl communication does not actually violate any laws of physics, instead following one of those theories.
    – Kai
    Apr 17, 2018 at 10:58

2 Answers 2


Yes, that is the implication in the scene in question.

In the book this episode is based on, Caliban's War, this plot point lasts over several chapters but is much more explicit.

There are several data points leading to this conclusion, the first one near the beginning of the book when Bobbie fights the monsters on Ganymede:

"I got an alert from Michael-Jon de Uturbé about increased activity on Venus at the same time the shooting started on Ganymede. It wasn't a big spike, but it was there. And Venus getting restless just when something happens that looks a damn lot like the protomolecule showed up on Ganymede? That's a problem."


But the data was clear. The attack on Ganymede and the spike in the energy expended on Venus had come at exactly the same time. And no one knew why.

The second data point is when the monsters break containment on Io:

"They can share information?" Avasarala said.

"Sure," Prax said. "Look at your energy spikes. The first one happened while the thing was fighting Bobbie and the other marines on Ganymede. The second spike came when the other one got loose in the lab. The third spike was when we killed it with the Rocinante. Every time one of them has been attacked, Venus reacted. They're networked. I'd assume that any critical information could be shared. Like how to escape constraints."

And the third data point is the incident you're referring to, when the stow-away monster on the Rocinante is destroyed:

"I did," Avasarala said. "There was another energy spike. Bigger than the last ones. Prax was right. They are networked, and worse than that, they don't suffer lag. Venus reacted before the information about the battle could have reached it."

"Okay," Bobbie said. "That's bad, right?"

"It's weird as tits on a bishop, but who knows if it means anything? They're talking about spin-entaglement webs, whatever the hell those are. […]"

Which is a pretty explicit statement saying that the information about the monster's death did travel faster than light to Venus – possibly through quantum entanglement, as the other answer alludes to.


One possibility is that the protomolecule is exhibiting some form of large scale quantum entanglement. Such entanglement has been proposed as a possible FTL transmission method. The wikipedida site discussing this possibility discounts the use for FTL itself. But, would seem to possibly allow for the simultaneous expression of the system at a distance: I.e. as stated:

"...they only let two observers in different locations see the same system simultaneously, without any way of controlling what either sees. "

Under this explanation it might satisfy the observation of simultaneous expression without violating our current understanding of quantum FTL. Though I am not aware from the layperson literature that anyone has seen quantum entanglement at the scale of the protomolecule.

  • This is a good answer, but I'm not sure it answer's OP's actual question, which seems to be whether it actually did communicate faster than light or not. My interpretation is that yes, it did, and in that case your answer explains how it could have done that.
    – tobiasvl
    Jun 1, 2018 at 11:12
  • 3
    Entanglement doesn't allow for faster than light communication. Or any communication for that matter. Here are the first two sentences of the text you linked to: "Certain phenomena in quantum mechanics, such as quantum entanglement, might give the superficial impression of allowing communication of information faster than light. According to the no-communication theorem these phenomena do not allow true communication; they only let two observers in different locations see the same system simultaneously, without any way of controlling what either sees."
    – user104505
    Sep 3, 2018 at 1:59
  • "Such entanglement has been proposed as a possible FTL transmission method." Only by sci-fi authors who don't do enough research...
    – Harabeck
    Sep 6, 2019 at 20:55

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