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Old 09-27-2010, 07:15 PM   #1
Georgiegirl2012
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Historical Fiction to Science Fiction/Fantasy

I have recently announced in another thread that I'm not normally drawn to Science Fiction/Fantasy, but thinking about it I have come to the conclusion that many of the books/authors that are amongst my favourites could, with a little bit of a push, fall into that category.

For example - Jean M Auel - Earth's Children saga and pretty much anything by Barbara Erskine. I also particularly like stuff set in medieval times and that nearly all has some sort of magic in it. Not to mention Harry Potter and the Power of Five books by Anthony Horowitz.

I might not be ready for hard sci fi but I could be persuaded.

Anything else that crosses genres?
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:01 PM   #2
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I would recommend the Honor Harrington series (free on Baen).
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Old 09-27-2010, 08:22 PM   #3
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Also on the Baen Free Library, Eric Flint's 1632 series. While less ambiguous in regards to its SFnal aspects, it apparently incorporates a great deal of RL history because the characters within it (transported back from our time) are changing it. Don't know if it'd interest you, but it's very popular and free to read.

More freebie fantasy histories @ Baen include Mercedes Lackey & Roberta Gellis' This Sceptre'd Isle: elves interfere in Tudor court workings in order to bring about the Elizabeth Age. This one really infodumps the actual RL events in between the more fantastical stuff. There's also Lackey, Flint, and Dave Freer's series Heirs of Alexandria, which presumably does the same for an alt-history Renaissance Venice. I have not read the latter.

Not exactly a genre-crosser, but an SF novel which very strongly incorporates medieval history and is quite excellent and highly recommended: Connie Willis' Doomsday Book. A time-traveling Oxford historian researches the Middle Ages directly. This won either a Hugo or a Nebula Award; possibly both.

And for thinly veiled history-based fantasies, you can't beat Guy Gavriel Kay, who's made almost his entire living off of doing analogues of real-life regions/events, now with added magic! His writing does have certain stylistic tics that can become grating if you don't love them.

However, I'd rate Lois McMaster Bujold's Chalion series above Kay. It's a sort of an increasingly loose fantasy riff on the Spanish Reconquista (and later, Germanic/Celtic tribes as conquered by analogue Romans, I think) and the first book, The Curse of Chalion, won a Mythopoeic Prize. It's very good, and I recommend it often.

Mary Gentle also does very good work incorporating fantasy into history, but her writing style is a bit dense and complex and some people find it hard to get into. However, you did mention you liked Jean Auel, so maybe you might like to give Gentle a shot. Ash: A Secret History is a pretty nifty what-if on the disappearance of the Burgundian duchies that dominated western European politics in the 1400-1500s or so.
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:00 PM   #4
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Wow, AT, that was a knowledgeable dissertation on history based SF!

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Old 09-27-2010, 11:12 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ATDrake View Post
Not exactly a genre-crosser, but an SF novel which very strongly incorporates medieval history and is quite excellent and highly recommended: Connie Willis' Doomsday Book. A time-traveling Oxford historian researches the Middle Ages directly. This won either a Hugo or a Nebula Award; possibly both.
You can also toss in (for a bit later in England) To Say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, and (soon) All Clear (no Wikipedia entry yet.)
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Old 09-27-2010, 11:17 PM   #6
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Wow, AT, that was a knowledgeable dissertation on history based SF!
Heh. Alt-history is kind of my hobby. I'm a sucker for thinly-veiled analogies/behind-the-scenes secret/parallel timeline tales.

I should also mention Harry Turtledove, Judith Tarr, and Susan Schwartz, who do great alternate timeline and real-world w/added fantasy elements historical novels.

Tarr, especially, does excellent low-key almost straight-up historicals with subtly incorporated fantasy, as well as more standard historical fantasies. You can read some of her short stories and even a big chunk of one of her novels free online at her BookViewCafé page. While not really what the OP is after, the stories with Elvis as president of the US/space Pope and the Kennedy brothers as a musical group are a real hoot to read.

Also, Diana L. Paxson does very good historicals based on fantasy/folklore tales: King Lear in Ancient Britain, Ring of the Nibelung w/the Huns, Tristan and Yseult as though they actually existed in that time period and weren't more or less made up from earlier Celtic legends when the Arthurian romances got written up during the 12-13th centuries. Conversely Josepha Sherman's done very good fantasies based upon real-world history: two-book Prince of the Sidhe series from Baen (out-of-print and not on Webscriptions yet) w/an exiled elven prince getting caught up in 9-10th century actual Irish/English/Viking events, with notes and further reading in the back.
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Old 09-28-2010, 03:52 AM   #7
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Thanks for the recommendations - I shall look them all up later after work (oh the trials of having to earn money to pay for my hobbies).
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Old 09-28-2010, 10:29 AM   #8
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Some classic fantasy which fits in w/ history includes:

- Poul Anderson --- _The Broken Sword_ and _The Merman's Children_
- Jack Vance --- his Lyonesse Trilogy: _Lyonesse: Suldrun's Garden_, _The Green Pearl_ and _Madouc_
- Louis L'Amour --- _The Walking Drum_
- Rosemary Sutcliff --- _Warrior Scarlet_
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Old 09-28-2010, 11:46 AM   #9
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:17 PM   #10
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The Warlock books by Christopher Stasheff - try "Warlock in Spite of Himself" and "King Kobold" first
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Old 09-29-2010, 02:46 PM   #11
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?!? Christopher Stasheff's Warlock books are future-set science fiction (w/ heavy psi-as-magic) and not tied into past history as story-setting.
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Old 09-30-2010, 08:49 AM   #12
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?!? Christopher Stasheff's Warlock books are future-set science fiction (w/ heavy psi-as-magic) and not tied into past history as story-setting.
But he engages in guerilla teaching of history, slipping stuff in serruptitiously about the medieval and later past in the future plotlines, so it seems to meet the genre-crossing aspect.
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Old 11-13-2010, 07:22 PM   #13
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I second the recommendation of Connie Willis (Doomsday Book as well as others- Doomsday is very dark- both depressing and uplifting; time travel used to teach history to students)- but Passages, To say Nothing of the Dog, Blackout, etc. are all great reads. I just read Matthew Sturges' Midwinter- you might want to try it. Have you checked out PaperbackSwap.com or swap.com, where you can trade books? If you have books to swap, the trades cost you nothing more than the shipping costs- which are usually under $3- I have swapped hundreds of books this way- Check it out and save some money.
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