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I've always assumed that the Q were truly four-dimensional (or higher) beings, in that they could move through time as easily as we move through space. But Q's actions always seem to be in chronological order- that is, he talks about events that have happened in the past and seems to have no knowledge of the future (in contrast with The Prophets). But time travel happens all the time in Star Trek- they even do it themselves in Death Wish, so I find it difficult to believe they wouldn't be four-dimensional. An interesting thing to note is that Q Junior was born during the time Voyager was in the Delta Quadrant, and yet was an adult (although let's not assume anything about their lifecycles). So maybe only part of their existence is linear, the part we see.

My question is, why do the Q seem to have a linear existence? Could it be that they enforce it on themselves to exist primarily in one time? Or is there no in-universe justification, that it's just to make things make sense for the viewer?

  • They may be bound by something similar to the Temporal Prime Directive, and are generally restricted from revealing the future to lesser races. – Xantec Apr 5 '14 at 13:21
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    "They shouldn't be in the Delta Quadrant for another hundred years!"- Q – PointlessSpike Apr 5 '14 at 13:38
  • The prophets do at least have a glancing understanding of 4 dimensionality; "We are of Bajor" – Valorum Apr 5 '14 at 13:39
  • The understand space, clearly, but didn't understand time until Sisko showed up (the paradox of the idea of them existing before they understood time is interesting). – PointlessSpike Apr 5 '14 at 13:43
  • The Q would have dimensions beyond the basic four. WE are four-dimensional in our current understanding of science; we exist primarily in a space with length, width, breadth and move through time - in one direction, without control over the rate. The Q are able to perceive with a high degree of awareness, forward and backward through time, move forward and backward through time, and even alter events previously in existence (if they want to). So the Q exist primarily in higher dimensions and can manipulate the fourth dimension the same way we manipulate matter in our primary three dimensions. – Thaddeus Howze Mar 30 '15 at 2:30
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The simplest answer to this question is; It's not made clear

In general terms, the Q appear to be able to move freely in time and space, potentially to any point within the universe, and certainly to travel within their own lifetimes. Q seems to have an awareness of the future actions of his fellow Q (Quinn) and has absolutely no compunction about sharing that knowledge with him in the episode Death Wish;

Q : In the Continuum, an individual has an obligation to be responsible to the path his life will follow.

On the flipside, after the death of Quinn it appears that Q and the rest of the inhabitants of the Q continuum are cast adrift from the knowledge of their future actions. They fight a bloody and destructive civil war between the forces of order (who want Qs to ensure that they remain true to their future actions) and the forces of individualism who seem to want the Q to have the ability to create paradoxes by not doing so. In the grand scheme it's not clear what the outcome of the war is or how it will affect individual Qs


Update : In the endnotes for the IDW comic "The Q Gambit, Part II", there's a brief description by series writer Mike Johnson about the nature of Q.

Q. If "Q" is omnipotent, does he view time as linear? My point is. will he "remember" Picard and the TNG crew or is this his first contact with humanity?

MJ: ...I think (from my poor little human perspective) that time is not linear for Q. We see it as linear with one moment leading to another creating a past present and future. Q (again, in my interpretation) sees time (and three-dimensional space) more like you and I would see a map. It's all there in front of him, and he can move from place to place the way our eyes jump around a map. Q likes to have fun moving 3D organisms around the map and seeing how they react (e.g. Picard in the TNG pilot, and Kirk in this story).

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