Is this HF or SF?

So I came up with an idea featuring a world in which the Roman Empire never fell, it got more and more powerful until it dominated the entire world.

So would a story set in 1450 about Sino-Roman war with nukes and machine guns be SF, HF, or Fanfiction?

What about a story set in 1720 about Romans colonising other planets?

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I would call this alternate history

I guess it depends on the machine guns :joy: Firearms were already a thing, but if your guns are more advanced than what they actually were, you can say it’s historical fantasy.

Historical fantasy, I’d say.


There isn’t a specific genre here for that.

It’s our world without the dark ages, so machine guns are as advanced as they were in our timeline in WWII.

It’s super grounded in reality.

Historical fiction would come the closest.

It’s not an official genre, but Historical fiction requires accuracy (at least to the level of timeline :sweat_smile:), that’s why I wouldn’t call it pure HF. Anyway, alternative history is a term commonly accepted - I recently read a published book which clearly states that in the cover :slight_smile:


I know, I’ve read similar things.

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As @BetelgeuseWatson has said, it is a very specific sub-genre of Fantasy, an Alternative History, and can also be tagged with Magical Realism/Low Fantasy.

If you were writing about that one Roman Legion that made it to China and settled there, or the contacts between the Chinese and the Papal States during the Renaissance, that would have been historic fiction.

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What about a bunch of Roman astronauts landing on Titan?

That takes you into space opera realm of sci fi, because it does not parallel the course of history in any tangible way. Unless, you coalesce the Holy Roman Empire, and do political structure that preserves it instead of it falling apart into nation states. But Titan is still a problem, because it is so far outside of the technological advance. So, soft sci fi/space opera.

But, sci fi or fantasy, you have nothing to do with historic fiction.

Mhm, makes sense I guess.

I’m chiming in to agree with all this. Straight historical fiction I expect to be based on real history. Alternate history I expect a story based on “but what if this aspect of history had gone differently.” And historical fantasy I expect to have elements that aren’t realistic to the time period, like magic or advanced technology.

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Yeah, and that’s the issue, because we don’t have an idea what would’ve happened if the Dark Ages never happened, but what would’ve probably happen is that we’d be much more advanced than we are today. So it’s not exactly fantasy but at the same time it is because it requires a lot of thinking.

We might have been in an advanced state, but I don’t think Romans would have reached the knowledge to go to Titan :smile:

According to the lore, after conquering the world the Romans got bored and wanted to rule more, and in around 1520s astronomers spotted potentially colonisable land on Mars and Venus and wanted to go there.

It wasn’t exactly colonisable, but whatever to the Romans.

In 1520 Romans were already gone for good. People always wanted to reach the Moon, that doesn’t mean they could. You can obviously write about Romans on Titan, but I think it goes beyond the borders of alternative history too.

I know, and that’s exactly what this is about: what if the Romans never kicked the bucket.

I think it’ll be the perfect baby of HF and SF.

And I think that baby is called historical fantasy :blush:

Why did they change their surname? Or did fantasy adopt them?

Yes, fantasy adopted them :rofl:

It would be a Historical Fiction, specifically an Alternate reality (universe, dimension, as you concieve of it) fiction.