Saturday, August 1, 2020

Stories with Titles Taken from Kubla Khan

Stories with Titles Taken from "Kubla Khan"

Many years ago on Usenet I put together (with help from other denizens of the great newsgroup rec.arts.sf.written) a list of stories which take their titles from Samuel Taylor Coleridge's poem "Kubla Khan". I believe this may be the poem (or, at least, relatively short poem) which has inspired the titles of more SF stories than any other. That list was on my old home page for a while, but has not been anywhere but on my hard drive since the demise of my old host, So I've decided to resurrect it here, just for fun. I've added a few new stories.

The list doesn't include a couple of ambiguous cases -- stories called "Demon Lover", for instance, nor one called "Floating Hair". It does include a couple instances where the story's title isn't a direct quote from the poem, but is clearly directly inspired by the poem. Also, the Raymond F. Jones story listed gets its title from Coleridge's preface to the poem discussing its origin, and why it's not "complete" (N.B.: I think it's plenty "complete", and that the Person from Porlock perhaps did us all a favor!) There are four based on "Down to a Sunless Sea", three called "Ancestral Voices", and two each called "In Xanadu" and "The Milk of Paradise". Doubtless there are some I have missed.

I've read several of these, and those I've read I've bolded.

Chris Amies, "Down to a Sunless Sea", 1994

Ray Bradbury, "A Miracle of Rare Device", 1962

Marion Zimmer Bradley, "Measureless to Man", 1962, Probably better known as "The Dark Intruder".

Thomas M. Disch, "In Xanadu", 2001, A fine story with chapter headings also derived from the poem.

Gardner Dozois and Michael Swanwick, "Ancestral Voices", 1998

Malcolm Ferguson, "A Damsel with a Dulcimer", 1948

Sarah Frost, "Her Symphony and Song", 2014

R. Garcia y Robertson, "Into a Sunless Sea", 1994

Theodora Goss, "Singing of Mount Abora", 2008, World Fantasy Award winner and a wonderful story

David Graham, Down to a Sunless Sea, 1981

Rivka Jacobs, "The Milk of Paradise", 1994

Raymond F. Jones, "The Person From Porlock", 1947

Kari Maaren, Weave a Circle Round, 2017

Syne Mitchell, "Stately's Pleasure Dome", 2003

Kris Neville (writing as Henderson Starke), "As Holy and Enchanted", 1953

Kevin O'Donnell, Jr., "In Xanadu", 1976

Nat Schachner, "Ancestral Voices", 1933

S. M. Stirling, "Ancestral Voices", 1994

Cordwainer Smith, "Down to a Sunless Sea", 1975, This story was completed by Paul Linebarger's wife Genevieve Linebarger.

Brad Strickland, "Beneath a Waning Moon", 1993

Melanie Tem, "Woman Wailing" (poem), 2004

James Tiptree, Jr., "The Milk of Paradise", 1972, A great story, my favorite of this list

Stewart von Allmen, "He on Honeydew", 1995,


  1. I wonder what number two would be? Maybe titles taken in some way from Hamlet?

    1. There are tons and tons from all of Shakespeare, of course. I've never tried to count ones from Hamlet (or Macbeth, a lot there too, of course.) But those are a lot longer than "Kubla Khan"!

  2. When I started my own little publishing company I named it Xanadu. I used to live in Coleridge Road.