Historical Science Fiction

I read a nifty beginning of a story, and I thought I’d share.

In 400 AD, Roman soldiers are attacking a group of Visigoths. The Visigoths have been pushed off their land by invaders (Huns, if I remember correctly) and are simply looking for a place to live. As they explore, the enter Roman territory. Well, the Romans aren’t too interested in Visigoth settlers. Battles ensue.

Aric is the chief’s son and a little brash. He’ll go into battle even when he father has commanded retreat. During one such battle, the Romans circle around and attack the Visigoth support camp — which includes some important people like wives and children. Also, Aric’s wife. The Romans take most of the women and children captive — they’re worth more as slaves, after all — and take off. Aric chases after.

Thus far, the story is historical adventure. The book even opened with a nice infographic showing how life was different. 

Then the real fun starts. Aric wants revenge. He tracks the Romans down and discovers a massive transport for carrying prisoners. The soldiers have slightly different armor, though definitely or Roman design. Aric, overcome with rage, ignores the advice of an elder and simply attacks without a plan.

This turns out to be a bad idea. Those soldiers aren’t Romans, and the transport isn’t a prisoner transport. It’s a fallen spacecraft. When Aric knocks the helmet off one soldier, he’s confronted with a spider-like face. He still thinks this is a Roman, though. See, Romans hired mercenaries, and apparently they’re hiring monsters for their army now. Or so he thinks.

The aliens defend themselves, knock Aric out, and take him and many of his troops captive. Apparently they were on a mission for kidnapping. Back at the Visigoth camp, one of the aliens sneaks into a tent, switching out a baby for one of their own young. It’s shades of changeling as the alien child morphs into a human one.

The aliens take Aric and his fellow soldiers to space. And that’s roughly half the first chapter.

I really enjoyed the beginning of this story and I’m going to recommend you check it out. If nothing else, it is a genre little touched: historical science fiction. It’s not set modern-day or in some imagined future. It’s set squarely in the past. The nearest I can think of comparable is Cowboys and Aliens or Wild Wild West. And this isn’t meant to be alternate history, a’ la Turtledove. It’s not a time travel story, either. It’s an encounter of the strange set during a historical period. Have you imagined any historical science fiction? Take a look at history. There’s all sorts of fun eras. Sure, there’s the wild west, but what about an alien refugee landing during the French Revolution? What would Edo period Japan think of an interstellar attack?

Oh, what was the story that I read that I enjoyed so much? The first issue of a new comic series entitled X-O Manowar.

Comics ain’t just superheroes. Go check out the issue. It’s well worth it. Support some good science fiction. And while you’re at it, think up some new settings for science fiction stories using our own history for the backdrop.

Random sample page!
Another random sample page!
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