I’m a history major at heart, so one of the things I love seeing in fantasy is how authors draw on real-world history to fuel their worlds. Whether it be historical events, people or cultures, it always keeps me intrigued. Fantasy, perhaps more so than any genre besides historical fiction, has a chance to delve into history, play with it, and make it a powerful factor in storytelling. Here are some of my favorite examples of how history gets woven into science-fiction and fantasy.
Another aspect of history-within-fantasy that I especially enjoy is the “secret history” trope. In worlds with some sort of “masquerade,” where wizards, vampires, gods, or whatever are secretly walking among us, what additional insight could they shed on the history we think we know? What really happened in Siberia in 1908? Who really built Stonehenge, and why?
One example of this is found in Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden novels, where Bram Stoker’s Dracula was actually commissioned by a group of vampires in order to undermine a rival group by exposing all their weaknesses. Though not strictly fantasy, just about every episode of the TV show Quantum Leap revealed the protagonist interacting with real-world history in surprising and entertaining ways.
What do you think? How else can fantasy make history cool?