Housellama wrote:Taz, this applies to your statement that it doesn't give anything meaningful
In that statement I was referring not the practice of predictamancy, but to the 4-dimensional "block" view of a universe, or differently put, a view outside of time and space where the entirety of the universe's time line, all of the past and future, are visible as solid state. I'll go into explaining this a bit further in my post.
BLANDCorporatio wrote: At the very least, one still has the "we can do this the easy way, or we can do this the hard way" choice. "Wanda, you will study under Olive." "All right, I'll go pack right now!"- and history is suddenly different, as maybe her brother doesn't meet and get killed by Olive.
Sure. But wouldn't it have affected other prophecies if she had?
That's another thing about prophecy and predictamancy as an infallible natural force. Any prophecy filtering back to the past has to not only create a stable/self-consistent time loop with its own events, but with those of every other ongoing and future prophecy as well
I'll take a sort-of-tangent into the block universe for a moment. Basically the out-of-time perspective of a universe. Now, this is a fun mental exercise, but it doesn't actually serve to tell us anything meaningful. It is an imagined perspective of what things might be like outside of time, outside of the universe, but using only in-universe information. All it basically tells us is "Stuff happens", and potentially it even misrepresents time as a dimension. It's hard to be sure of whether or not it is.
The reason I'm talking about this is because I like talking about the nature of prophecy. And purely as a natural force, I just don't see it as likely. At least not with a single universe. Basically as something that calculates all the possible eventualities and makes prophecy that way, you'd need something that can represent the entire universe as data, basically generating the equivalent of multiple universes and seeing what happens to them. If it were a sort of re-iterative force, basically finding stable time loops by sending information back in time and just "experimenting", somehow discarding paths that don't end up self-consistent, it would seem odd that there would be one and only one stable time line as a result. It seems instead like there should be none or (near?) infinite, and we'd only be seeing one.
Another issue is something I've touched upon but not explored as thoroughly as I could have yet: Prophecy is tailored to sapients
. This is something we do clearly see in the story. Taking the ambush prophecy for example, Marie could tell Jillian she was going to be ambushed, but not where, not how, not by how many units, which units or over what kind of terrain. Other prophecies as well. They tell of an event, or some discrete package of information, but they cannot give any specifics like the time of day, who will and won't be present, what everyone will be wearing etc.
Before I drag on too long with this: My point is predictamancers don't see a vision. Not in the sense of taking a viewpoint directly from the future anyway. They get information based on concepts that they understand. This is information that would be really hard to extract from a natural force. A force of nature doesn't understand the concept of "ambush" and wouldn't be able to tell why out of five thousand possible battle situations, 17 qualify as an "ambush". That's something that requires a sapient mind to understand.
So here's another possibility that has some merit: Predictamancers generate prophecies by sending information back through time, and the natural force in question isn't prophecy, but a mechanism that prevents paradox. This would cover some of the bases, it would explain why prophecy is in sapient concepts (it originates from a sapient) and why long term prophecies start off as vague with no side-information (the more vague your statement, the lower the odds of it generating a paradox). It does leave certain questions unanswered though like why the need for 100% self-consistency and why only prophecies can be communicated and not things like general warnings or information that is useful to a past-self regardless of certain events coming to pass.
Also it needn't actually be the predictamancers that send the messages of course. It could technically be any sapient with the ability and knowledge.