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Our Favorite Historical SFF Retellings

History is written by the victors; or in this case, re-written to explore what could have been. From a young assassin who uses knives to instil fear in her targets, to a young woman who steals her older brother’s destiny of greatness, travel to a reimagined history with these fantastical stories.


She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

In this reimagining tale about the founding emperor of the Ming Dynasty, the second daughter of a family of starving peasants is told her fate will amount to nothingness, while her older brother, Zhu Chongba, will achieve greatness. However, when their father is killed, and Zhu dies from despair, the daughter decides to take on her brother’s identity to steal his fate.

Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson

When a young woman from Harlem is hired as an assassin, she uses knives to scare the most dangerous of citizens. Ten years later, and at the beginning of World War II, the assassin, Phyllis LeBlanc, has given up on her past – including the man she loved, Dev. But her past hasn’t given up on her, and soon Phyllis has to make a choice – but is there ever enough blood in the world to wash clean generations of injustice?

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

In the glittering 1920s of this reinvented tale from The Great Gatsby, Jordan Baker is Asian, queer, and a magician. Jordan has grown up in the most elite circles of society – she has money, education, and invites to all the hottest parties. But as a Vietnamese adoptee, she is also treated as exotic by those around her, and the most important doors remain closed to her. But the world of lost ghosts, elemental mysteries, dazzling illusions, and infernal pacts is calling to her.

The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal

A huge meteorite crashed to earth in 1952 and took out most of the East Coast. Soon a looming climate crisis that could make the earth inhospitable for humans forces humanity to expedite their efforts to colonize space. As a WASP pilot and mathematician, Elma York is given a chance to live on the moon. But Elma’s drive to be an astronaut is so strong that not even the International Aerospace Coalition can keep her from exploring space.

Lent by Jo Walton

In fifteenth century Florence, young Girolamo can see demons and cast them out on his own will. And not only that, but Girolamo seems to have the charisma and charm to make friends out of noblemen, convince Charles VIII of France to not invade Florence and instead protect, and to make any crowd he preaches to swoon. Soon, people begin to feel threatened by his power, such as the Pope who is bent on preventing him from controlling Florence. But Girolamo is just getting started.

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