A central theme in Neil Gaiman's fantasy novel Stardust is that stars, when they fall from the sky, take on the shape of human beings. One of the main characters is a fallen star who ends up living on earth as a human woman, with a human mate.

This is reminiscent of Ramandu in C.S. Lewis's The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, a fallen star who lives on earth as a human man (and even has a daughter) but will eventually return to the sky.

Was Neil Gaiman directly influenced by C.S. Lewis in this? I'm aware that the notion of fallen stars becoming people is an ancient one, but it's still possible that there's some direct correspondence we can trace between these two works. Answers might be based on quotes from Gaiman on the issue (if any exist), or analysis of the two texts, or perhaps analysis of this trope in literature as a whole.

  • While not directly related, the central conflict is inspired by John Donne's "Song: Go and catch a falling star". That title might sound familiar, but the theme of the poem (unfaithful, beautiful women) is also a minor theme in Stardust: poetryfoundation.org/poems-and-poets/poems/detail/44127
    – user403
    Feb 7, 2017 at 0:32

2 Answers 2


While we can't rule out an influence from Lewis, he was not Gaiman's primary motivation. Gaiman has named different influences for Stardust.

Stardust has a much closer parallel to the 1926 book Lud-In-The-Mist by Hope Mirrlees. Gaiman has praised the book, including it in a list of his all-time favourite novels. In this newspaper feature, he makes clear that Lud-in-the-Mist was an influence of Stardust and names some other inspirations too.

Happily ever after by Neil Gaiman, in The Guardian, 13 October 2007.

I started writing Stardust in 1994, but mentally timeslipped about 70 years to do it. The mid-1920s seemed like a time when people enjoyed writing those sorts of things, before there were fantasy shelves in the bookshops, before trilogies and books "in the great tradition of The Lord of the Rings". This, on the other hand, would be in the tradition of Lud-in-the-Mist and The King of Elfland's Daughter. All I was certain of was that nobody had written books on computers back in the 1920s, so I bought a large book of unlined pages, the first fountain pen I had owned since my schooldays and a copy of Katharine Briggs' Dictionary of Fairies. I filled the pen and began.

One could even argue that Lewis fits within 'the great tradition of Lord of the Rings' that Gaiman was seeking to escape. Lewis was of course contemporary with Tolkien and both were members of Oxford University literary club The Inklings. One might suggest this places them as working within the same literary tradition, although the two produced stylistically different fantasy epics for different reasons.

Of the works mentioned by Gaiman as inspirations, Stardust has a particular parallel with Lud-in-the-Mist. The two books share a close story arc: a mundane town bordering on fairyland, a place of which the common folk are afraid. Up until one character plucks up the courage to visit.

There are also tonal and stylistic associations between the two. Critics have noted that Stardust sounds quite unlike Gaiman's normally somewhat frenetic writing and is more of a hark back to classic English Victoriana.

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    I'm unconvinced that Lewis fits into the "great tradition of The Lord of the Rings", though there is one (famously misspelt) Tolkien reference in the Narnia books. He was writing at about the same time as Tolkien, not following after, and their style and subject matter are extremely different. (Tolkien is consciously heroic and epic, and writes in a deliberately antiquated style to match; Lewis feels small-scale even when describing things that affect all of Narnia, and his style is almost always colloquial. [...continues] Jan 23, 2017 at 13:18
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    Tolkien is deliberately trying to create his own world from scratch; Lewis pulls in references from classical mythology, from Christianity, etc. Tolkien tries hard to be realistic and consistent; Lewis, I think, not nearly so much.) I'd almost prefer to say that Lewis fits into the great tradition of all of literature and legend up to but excluding LOTR. Jan 23, 2017 at 13:22
  • There's a Tolkien reference in Narnia? Jan 23, 2017 at 17:46
  • It would be very helpful if the mystery downvoter explained what's wrong with this? It's referenced and accurate.
    – Matt Thrower
    Jan 27, 2017 at 16:32
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    @MattThrower I'm not terribly fond of "one could say this, one could say that" but yeah, one could argue that it's better now :-). Jan 31, 2017 at 13:17

It looks like he was influenced by traditional English fairy stories and in particular a writer by the name of Lucy Clifford

A star still falls, a boy still promises to bring it to his true love, there are still wicked witches and ghosts and lords (although the lords have now become princes.) They even gave the story an unabashedly happy ending, which is something people tend to do when they retell fairytales.

In The Penguin Book of English Folk Tales, we learn that mid-20th-century folklorists had collected an oral story and never noticed it was actually a retelling and simplification of a strange and disturbing children's story written by the Victorian writer Lucy Clifford.

Source : Guardian article on the release of the book

Extract from an Amazon listing of 'Anyhow Stories, Moral and Otherwise' by Lucy Clifford

Where all the stars are waiting To see you close your eyes. They wish you all sweet slumber, They wish you all good night; They'll tell the sun to rouse you When once again 'tis light. And while you sleep, the roses May think your cheeks so fair That, in the early morning, You'll find them resting there.


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