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Major spoiler alert for those who have not read the book.

In the second episode of American Gods, we see Anansi give a speech in the hold of a slave ship in which he reveals detailed information about America's future. This seems to suggest that the Gods have some knowledge of the future.

If this is the case, how does Mr Wednesday expect to pull off his scam? How do the other Gods fail to see the end result of his plan?

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    An obvious answer would be that the scene with Anansi needs to be taken with a grain of salt (you saw his clothes, didn't you?), and that the gods are not omniscient in the novel. Therefore, unless they decide to diverge from the source completely, and change Wednesday's plan to something else, gods are not omniscient in the TV series as well. Time will tell. – Gallifreyan Jun 30 '17 at 21:09
  • How big must this grain of salt be? Are you suggesting that this scene exists purely for the audience and did not really happen? – Magikarp Master Jun 30 '17 at 21:21
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    Note that the novel does have a prehistoric god giving a prediction and foretelling the fate of his people that would occur after they had forgotten their god, plus other gods do give predictions as well. That doesn't mean they're omniscient, though, just that they know more than humans do/have a better grasp of what will come/what the world looks like "behind the scenes", so to speak. – JAB Jun 30 '17 at 21:46
  • You do raise a good point there JAB, but I would argue that there is a distinct difference between giving vague warnings to people about the future (like in the novels) and having a super detailed understanding of the major events for the next 200 years (like Anansi in the second episode). – Magikarp Master Jun 30 '17 at 22:03
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No, they're not.

Mr. World mentions that he could not actually see Mr. Wednesday for the longest time. Mr. Wednesday for his part did not seem to realize exactly how screwed they were until he sensed Mr. World's arrival.

For another angle... all of the "Coming to America" segments, which Mr. Nancy's shiphold speech falls under, are actually a collection of tales assembled and written by Mr. Ibis. His concern in assembling these tales is emotional resonance and understanding, not factual accuracy. At least in the books (I have not noted this in the series yet, but we spend little time with Mr. Ibis, and what little we get appears very similar), he is known for inserting his own musings, and admitting the occasional poetic license, in order to properly communicate the essence of the tale.

This isn't to say that gods don't have some supernatural awareness, or some future sight or foretelling (Zoryas tell fortunes after all), but they are definitely not all-knowing.

  • You could also argue, that the fate of the slaves will be shaped by humans, so it is easy to predict by Mr Nancy. It might be much more difficult when other gods start to meddle in it. – Yasskier Nov 29 '17 at 21:14
  • @Yasskier - I feel like the dire straits many old gods find themselves in puts the kibosh on that all on it's own. Plus... then there's Laura... – Radhil Nov 30 '17 at 1:53

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