Our Top 5 SFF Retelling of Old Favorites

Retellings offer the chance for authors to take a new perspective on classic tales, from fairytales gone wrong to history with a twist. Read on for some fresh new takes on old favorites! 

By Lizzy Hosty

Destroyer of Light by Jennifer Marie Brissett

This Afro-futuristic retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone is set after the Earth was destroyed from an alien invasion, and the rest of humanity has been sequestered to the planet Eleusis. In this world divided into four habitable zones – Day, Dusk, Dawn, and Night – a young girl is kidnapped from Dusk by a violent warlord, leaving her mother desperately searching. On another side of the planet, a search for a child born from a human and alien in a criminal underground trafficking ring for unknown purposes, and a young woman with inhuman powers rises through the ranks to become a soldier. These stories build to a boiling point when the fate of humans and aliens will be determined.

A Spindle Splintered by Alix E. Harrow

In this retelling of Sleeping Beauty, Zinnia Gray has just turned twenty-one, and no one else with her condition has lived past their twenty-first birthday. So to make her last birthday extra special for Zinnia, her best friend Charm dedicates the party to the classic Sleeping Beauty tale, with a tower and a spinning wheel. But when Zinnia pricks her finger, she’s sent falling through worlds with another sleeping beauty, who is just as desperate to escape her fate.

She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker-Chan

Reimagining the rise to power of the Ming Dynasty’s founding emperor, She Who Became the Sun follows an unnamed girl who is destined for nothingness, while her brother is destined for greatness. But when her brother, Zhu Chongba dies, the girl decides to steal his identity to flee to a monastery and escape her own death. After her safe haven is destroyed, however, Zhu realizes she also has the chance to claim another future: her brother’s abandoned greatness.

The Chosen and the Beautiful by Nghi Vo

A reinvention of The Great Gatsby, The Chosen and the Beautiful follows a queer Vietnamese Jordan Baker who has grown up in the most rareified circles of 1920s America. But she’s also treated as an exotic attraction by her peers and the most important doors to her remain closed. But the world is full of wonders: infernal pacts and dazzling illusions, lost ghosts and elemental mysteries. In all paper is fire, and Jordan can burn the cut paper heart out of a man. She just has to learn how.

Lady Hotspur by Tessa Gratton

In this genderbent retelling of Henry IV, the Lady Knights are sworn to defend the prospective heir, Banna Mora. But when a rebellion ousts Mora and replaces her with leader of the Lady Knights, Hal Bolingbrooke, Mora is forced to choose between letting a king-killer rule, or taking up arms against her childhood best friend. War between the two Princes is inevitable – but Lady Hotspur could turn the tides with her support.

5 thoughts on “Our Top 5 SFF Retelling of Old Favorites

  1. I am re-reading the Honor Harrington series by David Weber, a retelling of the Horatio Hornblower series by C. S. Forester. It is excellent — even better than the original series in my opinion. Weber (and Forester) get the psycho-dynamics of the military better than most authors.

  2. While they aren’t books, I highly recommend the music by the band, The Mechanisms. They retell fairy tales and mythology and folklore through a very queer and science-fiction-y lens. The band themselves have lore, with each member playing a character with a full background that may or may not be revealed through song or the short stories on their website.
    But, like, they retold the classic European fairy tales with “Once Upon A Time (In Space)”, the story of the Odyssey in “Ulysses Dies at Dawn”, Arthurian stories in “High Noon Over Camelot”, Frankenstein in the single of the same name, Norse mythology in “The Bifrost Incident”, Alice in Wonderland in “Alice”, and so many more, those are just the big ones they released.
    But yeah, highly recommend them and their music. Time-traveling immortal space pirates that tell tragedies through music, they’re a really wonderful band with a fun story.

  3. Lilith Saintcrow’s Tales of Beauty & Madness do a fine job of taking on the Cinderella story! Dark! But good!

  4. And if you’ve never read it, Poul Anderson’s Nebula & Hugo award winning novelette, “Goat Song” is a re-imagining of the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice. It’s one of Anderson’s absolute best works. Browse your neighborhood used book store for the 1973 Annual World’s Best SF, Nebula Award Stories 8, Hugo Winners Vol 3, or Anderson’s collection, Homeward and Beyond.

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