...every work of art is a selection from reality, an erasure of some of the information to be found in the real world, in order to present the remaining information in a different light. I'm all for far-reaching and profound erasures, when they're the result of deliberate choices. When they stem from ignorance, they tend to produce much less interesting results. This is what bothers me about "standard fantasy:" it consists of a set of erasures, calculated to remove any interesting reference to the real world. This is partly deliberate - when one wishes to present archetypal stories or fables one needs to avoid their being taken for metaphors or manques of current events, for instance. The standard fantasy setting, having nothing interesting about it, is therefore a useful blank canvas against which to write one's revenge drama, or coming of age rite of passage or whatever. That's fine, in one way. The problem is that when it becomes a standard, consensus background its erasures become blind spots rather than deliberate elisions. After a while it becomes difficult to see anything interesting about the merchant, per se, because the only stories he ever occupies are ones where (a) he's a greedy, amoral tyrant, (b) he's a source of missions/exchange value, (c) he's an obstacle to the acquisition of his beautiful daughter.