23 Retellings of Classic Stories From SFF Authors

We love a good retelling—whether it’s a favorite fairy tale, ancient myth, or epic tale, it’s always great to see old things made new. Part of the reason we love these stories is because they’re so malleable; with themes that span the breadth of the human experience, tales of love, revenge, and adventure can find a home in any place and time, with characters that feel both familiar and fresh at the same time.
As we started thinking about of favorite retellings of classic stories, so many brilliant adaptations, updates, and re-workings came to mind. Here are just a few that we adore! Please feel free to add your own in the comments.

Special thanks to authors Kat Cho and Lilliam Rivera who mentioned a few of these titles on Twitter and sparked the idea for this list!

Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi

A retelling of: Frankenstein
In what may be the most timely and in-your-face update of a classic story, Ahmen Saadawi’s story takes place in U.S. occupied Iraq after the war, and forces readers to deal with the violence of invasion. Because, after all, you can’t build a monster (aptly named Whatsitsname, the amalgamation of all the nameless victims) without spare body parts, and where do those bodies come from? Frankenstein in Baghdad not only does Mary Shelley’s original tale justice, but raises the bar.
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Destroyer by Victor LaValle

A retelling of: Frankenstein
If you’re interested in a Frankenstein that tackles the Black Lives Matter movement, do we have the update for you! Victor LaValle has spoken at length about his love for Frankenstein, and naturally his riff is amazing. Destroyer, his comic with artist Dietrich Smith, tells the story of Dr. Jo Baker, one of Victor Frankenstein’s last living descendants. She’s a doctor, certainly not a mad scientist, until her son Edward is shot by the police when he’s on his way home from a baseball game. When the cops responsible don’t face any consequences, she turns her genius to finding a way to bring her son back to life—and to seek vengeance by any means necessary.
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Dark and Deepest Red by Anna-Marie McLemore

A retelling of: “The Red Shoes”
Anna-Marie McLemore has made a spectacular career out of retelling fairy tales and myths through a queer Latinx lens (seriously, read all of them), and is absolutely at their best with this latest offering. Dark and Deepest Red is a twist on the Hans Christen Andersen tale “The Red Shoes”, set around the Strasbourg Dancing plague of 1518. McLemore touches on issues of race, gender, and what it means to be othered from society in a tale that is romantic in every sense of the word—just the right amount of tragic, feverishly passionate, and beautifully told.
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Einstein Intersection by Samuel R. Delany

A retelling of: Orpheus/Eurydice
Einstein Intersection is Samuel R. Delany’s riff on the Orpheus myth. Except this is Delany, so things get weird quick. Lo Lobey, our Orpheus, lives in a wayyy post-apocalyptic future, probably descended from a race of people who crashed on Earth after what we know as “civilization” collapsed. He plays a flute that is also a machete, and when his love is killed he goes on a quest to rescue her from Kidd Death, who is Death, Billy the Kid, James Dean, and one of two other icons swirled into one lanky cowboy. Beatles lyrics are recited as examples of classical antiquity? There are herds of dragons? Just go read it.
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Never Look Back by Lilliam Rivera

A retelling of: Orpheus/Eurydice
When I tell you I DEVOURED Rivera’s previous gift of a novel Dealing in Dreams, I mean I wolfed that thing down in the 5 hour plane ride from Portland to New York, and I am hungry for this new one like you wouldn’t believe. It’s a retelling of the Orpheus and Eurydice myth set in the Bronx, where Orpheus is recast as a sexy a bachata singer.
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