TazTheTerrible wrote:That would still leave open the question of the purpose of prophecy and its effects on the world.
Events that reach back would cause some sort of recursive effect, surely. So if we go on the assumption that this is a non-conscious force, simply re-iterating itself until it finds a stable pattern where all prophecies are true, then that means that the world is largely shaped by the force of prophecy. Which leaves the question of "to what end?". Is prophetic structure in itself a purpose?
A perhaps slightly different interpretation of the block universe would be to think of the predicted events as fixed points and everything that happens around them as mutable. Possibly predictamancy exists as an attractor mechanism for these points. Again though, this raises questions of why. All the big predictions seem to have narrative meaning, things that matter to and are interpretable by conscious minds.
Of course, this could be a matter of simple contamination by the author(s) because of a sense of "that's just how prophecy works". If we had to look for an explanation though, I'd say a conscious force seems like the more likely possibility.
I'm going to go with the Doctor here. "It's more like a big bowl of wibbly wobbly... time-y wimey... stuff". Taz's
fixed points theory is the most consistent with what we've seen thus far. The endpoint could be considered an attractor in that no matter how you get there, you're going to get there no matter what. Erfworld is definitely deterministic, in that Causality is strictly enforced. What isn't determined is how the characters choose to view those events. Cause and effect follows from that, meaning View X will lead to Action A, View Y will lead to Action B, etc. There's your Block Universe with free will, right there.
What Predictamancers see is a single fixed point. It's an extremely limited event. What they see involves a very limited number of actors, relatively speaking. Maybe they see a lot of possibilities and maybe they just see the event itself, but we know they don't see the path to it. To go back to the Doctor's metaphor, what you have is two ends of a string. You know where the event is starting, because you're there right now, and you know where the event is ending, because it's been Predicted.
Here's the thing. The reason that free will is important isn't just because of the primary actors involved. The reason it's important is because that string gets tangled up in a lot of other strings in that big bowl of time-y wimey stuff going from one end to the other. That's where choices matter. There are only a limited number of fixed points, and a whole lot of stuff. This means that the possible permutations of that stuff around those fixed points is, while not infinite, very large. Compare that to the number of fixed points, and that's why free will matters.
As far as what all this means, the theme of the story thus far has been about choices. Fate has written certain points in the story, for some unknowable reason, like the Titans willed it to be so. The world that the characters live in is extremely mechanistic. Their choices are greatly limited as compared to our own. Within this framework, you also have the play of emotions, most prominently Love. Predictions are very limited. They aren't what defines a character as a person. It's everything else that leads to those moments that makes them who they are. Fate can only force what a person does. It cannot force who a person is
. That's the purpose of Predictamancy. To help frame those choices and give them context.