Decoding Garnet’s future vision

Tomorrow we have… Well, a bit of speculating to do. Today is about the hard stuff, though: what we know. We don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that Future Vision answered some questions about Garnet’s precognitive powers, so it’s time to take those answers and examine the implications more closely.

No one can see the future. I can see options and trajectories. Time is like a river that splits into creeks, or pools into lakes, or careens down waterfalls. I have the map, and I steer the ship.

The power of probability

Given the way she explains it, it sounds like Garnet’s future vision is based off of her heightened perception that Pearl mentions in Arcade Mania: because her senses are so keen, she is able to fill in a lot of blanks when she’s trying to figure out what will happen in the future.

When Steven asks her what he can have for breakfast or what Sadie’s response to him will be, Garnet answers in a very probabilistic fashion: because of this factor you’ll probably do this; the most likely response is that she’ll do that. Even questions about very simple events not very far in the future are probabilities. If her future vision was magical it wouldn’t be too impressive if she could only guess what Sadie’s response to him would be, but if it’s simply the ability to vigorously analyze the world around her it makes perfect sense.

The limits

Garnet doesn’t appear to want to understate her precognitive prowess: in the Big Donut she is calling out exact numbers of timelines with a specific outcome. Maybe she was exaggerating the precision for Steven’s benefit, but it’s all we have to go on. How far ahead into the future she can predict doesn’t seem very well defined either, but for Steven at least she seems confident in her ability to predict his actions after several hours.

If her ability to predict the future really does come from a heightened awareness of the world’s starting state and the ability to calculate how that state will progress, that does provide a very hard limit to her powers: she can only predict events involving people and objects she is aware of. Something outside the range of her senses can have huge consequences that she’d have no way to foresee, meaning her predictive powers would have a very real limit.

Test cases

Magical foresight could have made Garnet’s character perplexing: with the ability to see the future, how could she be caught by surprise so much? Assuming that she’s just analyzing the world makes a lot of situations easier to understand.

Laser Light Cannon
If Garnet could magically see the future this episode would be a bit weird. We’d be left with Garnet telling Steven that they could handle the Red Eye presumably because she knew that would cause him to seek out the light cannon they needed to save the day? Not very satisfying. Her simply not knowing about the cannon and therefore not being able to foresee its recovery makes much more sense.

Serious Steven
How could Garnet be caught by surprise by the pyramid temple if she can see the future? Assuming she is unfamiliar with the temple, everything makes perfect sense if Garnet’s powers are analytical in nature: a totally novel environment means there’s not much she can predict about it.

Giant Woman
Garnet clearly foresaw something when she told Steven to keep the harmony. She’s known Amethyst and Pearl for thousands of years: probably enough to predict their actions very well. She may even have heard them discussing Opal and figured Steven would obsess over it (as he did), and there’s even a chance she may have known in advance about there being a powerful monster at the Sky Spire. All that put together would mean it made perfect sense for Garnet to want Steven to help Amethyst and Pearl form Opal to deal with the threat.

Warp Tour
The big one. Knowing that Future Vision was coming some wondered how Peridot’s arrival in Warp Tour could be a surprise if Garnet can see the future. Now it’s obvious: Garnet doesn’t know what’s going on off of the Earth, so anything that comes to the Earth will be a complete surprise.


    • Daniel on February 1, 2015 at 12:26 am

    I imagine that Garnet’s future vision works a lot like the ‘Seer of Mind’ powers that Terezi from Homestuck has.

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