The Prador are a fictional alien race, created by Neal Asher in his Polity Universe series of science-fiction books. The Prador are crustaceans that gain size over time, with the oldest being many times larger then a human.

Physical description

Prador are amphibious crustaceans with flattened pear-shaped shells with scalloped rims and a raised visual turret at the broad end that houses several pairs of red spider-like eyes, some of which are on movable stalks. Prador move about on six long legs, each terminating in a wicked spike. The rear pair of legs fall off when adolescent Prador make the transition to adults, exposing their sexual organs in the process.

Along their underside Prador have four manipulatory arms, each ending in a hand described as "a complex arrangement of hooks and fingers". These hands are highly dexterous and capable of fine manipulation, just like a human hand. It appears Prador can use all four hands to perform different tasks simultaneously, such as drawing and firing four different weapons at separate targets. Above these are the two heavy "working claws"; large crab-claw limbs that can easily cut through tough materials and crush human bones.

Prador feed with a set of dangerous mandibles, capable of grasping, cutting and chewing flesh. Prador are carnivorous, and mostly feed on decaying flesh, primarily harvested from giant mudskippers farmed on their homeworld. Adult Prador are very fond of human flesh, however, and many humans are bred just for this purpose, although by the end of the book The Skinner, this practice has begun to decline.

Prador shells are particularly tough, able to withstand impacts and small arms fire, but they seem quite vulnerable to energy weapons and heat, which can cause the shells to burst open.

Life cycle

The Prador life cycle is structured much as their society. Juvenile and adolescents are frequently eaten by their parents in order to prevent them usurping the parent's role in society or competing for valuable resources. The parents accomplish this by using a mixture of pheromones to inhibit their children's life cycle.

Once a Prador reaches adulthood the rear legs drop off and the sexual organs also develop, allowing the Prador to reproduce. As Prador age they grow in size and their limbs atrophy and fall off. Truly ancient Prador (some living into millennia) are completely limbless and rely on AG motors welded to their shells for movement, and scores of blanks for manipulation of the physical world.

Use of 'blanks'

Prador do not accomplish much of their own physical work. Instead they implant 'core mechanisms' in captured human bodies turning them into mindless organisms known as 'blanks'. They then directly control these blanks through sub-space transmissions emitted by communication devices on the adult Prador.

Prador society

Prador society is tightly striated and advancement challenges, as well as lethal arguments, are commonplace. No individual within the Prador Third Kingdom has a right to life; it must be earned through achievement, cunning and brute strength and constantly reinforced with displays of power. No member of society deserves any more than they can take, and the slightest sign of weakness is punished to the extreme.

Prador inter-family negotiations often consist of assassinations and outright conflict using blanks, adolescent first- and second-children.

Prador dislike AIs, and have none of their own, preferring to use surgically-modified cybernetically-enhanced second-children for roles such as probes, war machines and governing personalities in ships.

Prador are also very egotistical, and refuse to believe that humans and AIs are more intelligent than they are. If out-thought by an AI, a Prador would assume that a member of his own race was behind it.


Prador technology outstrips the Polity in terms of their metallurgical prowess and armour development. So complex is the construction of the alloys commonly used by the Prador, that it defies replication by Polity AI, who simply refer to the material as 'Prador Alloy'. The best example of this advantage in defense is present in their warships. Prador warship armour is resistant to heavy kinetic impacts, absorbing and distributing the kinetic energy evenly around the entirety of the ship, is quite capable of absorbing powerful energy based weapons fire, and can even reassert its original shape under combat conditions. These properties make for vessels that are incredibly tough and spectacularly difficult to destroy, requiring suitably powerful weaponry, or even near light speed kinetic projectiles. For this reason, Prador also invest in much more powerful and destructive weaponry.

Another interesting aspect of their technology lies within their ability to Core and Thrall organic beings to act as extensions of themselves. This is normally achieved by replacing the nervous system within the lifeform with a Thrall Unit, thus creating a totally subservient organic machine, controlled remotely by an Adult Prador with the corresponding control unit. These control units are directly tied into the Prador's consciousness, and the more control units the Prador has, the more mental strength and aptitude must be applied to control the Thralls simultaneously. Thus, it is a sign of great power and prestige if an Adult Prador possesses many control units. It is possible for Thralls to be put into autonomous roles, thus relieving the Prador of mental strain, but most Prador are necessarily quite paranoid about those close to them, and will monitor their personal Thralls incessantly, even killing them instead of relinquishing their absolute control. Other Thrall units, such as the Spider Thrall Unit, exist. Spider Thralls do not require surgery to be implanted, and immediately dominate the host, tapping directly into the central nervous system and overriding control. However, in some cases Spider Thralls have been known to fail, or even be rejected by the host, usually resulting in death, but in some cases the host has been known to survive. The greatest advantage provided by Spider Thralls is that because the host body's nervous system still exists, command and control of the body is much smoother and reliable, and requires less concentration on the part of the Prador. Thrall technology is used by the Prador because of their own physical shortcomings - a matter of convenience and efficiency, as Prador manipulator claws are nowhere near as sensitive or deft as human hands.

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