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Historical Fiction

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"Admitting that genius which has familiarized itself with all the relics of an ancient period can sometimes, by the force of its sympathetic divination, restore the missing notes in the "music of humanity," and reconstruct the fragments into a whole which will really bring the remote past nearer to us, and interpret it to our duller apprehension,–this form of imaginative power must always be among the very rarest, because it demands as much accurate and minute knowledge as creative vigour."
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This is fiction set in a distinctive historical period other than the one the author lives in, which brushes up against actual historical figures if it doesn't star them outright. Depending on the bent of said author, they may let their biases bleed through via Historical Hero Upgrade or Historical Villain Upgrade. A Historical Beauty Update will make the story more fun without making it much less accurate. Important historical events are at least mentioned in passing if they don't have a strong influence on the plot. Deliberate Values Dissonance will frequently happen in a Historical Fiction story unless the author embraces Politically Correct History. Often, the period predates a Trope Breaker (though sometimes the audience doesn't realize that). Foregone Conclusion is also a major aspect of Historical Fiction since the events in question will usually end in the same way they did in Real Life.

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This can overlap with Alternate History if the history is shown to play out differently and Historical Fantasy if fantastic elements are present. Compare to Period Piece, which uses the past as a backdrop for the drama, while Historical Fiction is fiction in which historical events significantly affect the plot. Historical Detective Fiction is a common subgenre.

Usually it includes one or more Historical Domain Characters, and may commonly employ Artistic License when the author feels the story is more important than accuracy. See also Docudrama, which tends to aim for more adherence to the facts, but adds its own interpretation to the details, and The Abridged History, which parodies history.

Compare and contrast Field Trip to the Past and Adventures in the Bible, in which characters from the present day go back in time to experience history.

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Examples:

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    Anime & Manga 

    Comic Books 
  • Barracuda is set during the Golden Age of Piracy.
  • Championess is a fictionalized account of the rise of Elizabeth Wilkinson, a pioneering female boxer in 1720s London.
  • Cossacks, a French comic book about a young early 17th century Lithuanian Hussar from the Polish Lithuanian Commonwealth who deserts the Polish army to join a group of Ukrainian Cossacks and live among them.
  • Democracy is a graphic novel about the formation of democracy in Ancient Athens. The story is told by a fictional character to boost his comrades' spirit before the Battle of Marathon and it features many Historical Domain Characters.
  • From Hell by Alan Moore is an impeccably researched depiction of Victorian London during the Jack the Ripper murders. It mixes historical fiction and accurate detail with Conspiracy Kitchen Sink.
  • Gustav Vasa set in 16th-century Sweden.
  • Les Aigles de Rome is about the Battle of Teutoburg Forest where several Roman legions were destroyed by a Germanic uprising. Numerous characters really did exist (such as Arminius), while others are fictitious.
  • Le Scorpion takes place in Rome during the second half of the eighteenth century, but feature several deviations from known history, such as one of the main bad guys becoming Pope.
  • The Life and Times of Scrooge McDuck, by Don Rosa, sets its main character in various decades from the 1870s to the 1940s, featuring such characters as Murdo Mac Kenzie, Wyatt Earp, and Theodore Roosevelt.
  • Magneto: Testament takes place during the late interwar period and World War II, specifically the Holocaust.
  • Marvel 1602 is set in early 17th century America and Europe.
  • Maus by Art Spiegelman is more like non-fiction. It documents the experiences of Vladek Spiegelman, the author's father, during The Holocaust.
  • Mendoza The Great: Follows the story of legendary boxer Daniel Mendoza from the late 18th century to early 19th century.
  • A People's History of the American Empire uses a lecture by historian Howard Zinn as a framing device to tell about several controversial and often ignored parts of American history from the end of the Civil War to 9/11.
  • Three is set in Sparta in the fourth century BC. It features some Historical Domain Characters, but the plot itself is fictional.
  • Tomahawk is set in colonial America and during The American Revolution. The last issues jump ahead to the opening of the American Midwest (early 1800s) and focus on Tomahawk's son.

    Fan Works 
  • Sister Floriana is set right in the middle of the Spanish Civil War.
  • Sixes and Sevens is an Agent Carter fanfic that also takes inspiration from The Invaders, so naturally it becomes this. Following Michael Carter and OC Emily as they try to track down an old colleague of Dr. Erskine's in Turkey, the author mixes actual historical fact and espionage procedure alongside the pulp elements.
  • The Uplifted series is this. Especially the first trilogy, which takes place during World War II.

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  • 1865 deals with the fallout from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln.

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