Low-tech Contraception


(permanent link) added: 2009-02-11 19:16:36 sponsor: Eclipt (last reply: 2009-07-10 16:09:05)

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If writers want their characters to have sex but a pregnancy would derail the plot, they have a number of options. The easiest thing to do is to simply ignore the entire issue and just get on with things. Sometimes, however, they feel a need to explain why a character doesn't seem to be getting pregnant despite their activities. In fantasy or historical fiction, though, modern types of contraception are not likely to be found (although some of them are actually Older Than They Think). Something special is therefore in order - a Handwave and/or some Applied Phlebotinum. Maybe the characters "know the right herbs", or maybe they have a magic pendant, or maybe humans and elves can't breed, or maybe they're sterile for some reason that only exists in the particular setting. It usually won't matter much what the actual method is - the point is, the characters can entertain themselves as frequently as necessary without the writer having to worry about biological cause and effect getting in the way of the story.

This is generally a requirement if the setting has Eternal Sexual Freedom, assuming the writer bothers to explain it.

  • Clan of the Cave Bear has the herbal method.
  • In The Witcher, Witchers are sterile as a result of all the deliberate mutations they undergo - which is damned convenient given how frequently Geralt ends up in bed with somebody.
  • Kushiel's Legacy seems to have divinely-sourced contraception?
  • The Liavek books have a special tea.
  • Tea made from tansy (a flowering herb) pops up in a number of works, such as A Song of Ice and Fire and the Night Angel trilogy, although this induces abortions rather than prevents pregnancy in the first place. Although it sounds like the authors invented it, this one is actually based on real life - people used tansy in the Middle Ages.

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