February 20, 2020, 04:49:37 AM

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Re: Slavery in fantasy For my two cents, I think the problem with "slavery" is largely one of grammar, as madfox11 touched on in their comment.  The word has a lot of baggage for modern audiences because of the Civil War era, but the Civil War era notion of slavery doesn't necessarily match what slavery has looked like for other cultures in history.  Furthermore, there are plenty of cases where humans interact in a way that looks an awful lot like slavery, but the culture as a whole fails to acknowledge it as such.

Even in modern culture, I think you will find that we have plenty of cases where there is a huge power differential, with the subjugated person in the relationship having little or no choice to escape. What is that if not a type of slavery?  It appears to be an essential aspect of human society, since it appears wherever complex human societies develop.

Prostitutes vs. Pimps
Debtors vs. Creditors
Retail workers vs. CEOs
Abused spouses vs. their abusers
Addicts vs. Dealers

Ever paid attention to what happens when workers try to unionize?  :)  It may be economic or psychological restraints rather than chains and whips, but it's no less effective. (Sometimes more so, if you can convince the weaker party that this system is right and good.) 

I think if you try to create a fictional society without these relationships, you risk creating a society that doesn't "feel" real. 

If the word has baggage that is going to interfere with the understanding of your story, you can always use something else.  :)  It's all about the reaction you want from your audience.  If you want them to associate it with Civil War era slavery, then call it slavery. Otherwise, find some other way to describe it. 

June 27, 2015, 05:52:42 AM