Small House of Everything

Small House of Everything

Friday, August 1, 2014


The Other Passenger:  18 Strange Stories  by John Keir Cross (1944)

John Keir Cross (1914-1967) was a prolific writer for BBC radio who later moved to television, adapting such books as John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes and Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities and The Mystery of Edwin Drood.  He also edited three well-respected horror anthologies.  Along the way, he wrote a number of juvenile books (some as "Stephen Macfarlane"); I reviewed The Angry Planet and The Red Journey Back as Forgotten Books in January 2012.

In the US he is probably best known for The Other Passenger, his second (of two) story collections and the only one published under his name.  Lippincott published the American edition in 1946, but it was the Ballantine paperback Stories from The Other Passenger in 1961 that most people remember.  It was one of the Ballantine horror series with the great Richard Powers covers that grabbed your attention from the get-go and then let the stories take you down strange and wondrous paths.

The stories? They're good.  Some are damned good.  In my mind I can't help comparing them to the stories in another book, Tomato Cain by fellow BBC writer Nigel Kneale  and the Cross stories fall a little bit short of those by Kneale -- just a little bit.  And, from me, that's great praise.

Here's the line-up with the stories from the Ballantine edition marked by an asterisk:
  • The Glass Eye*
  • Petronella Pan
  • The Last of the Romantics*
  • Clair de Lune*
  • Absence of Mind
  • Hands*
  • Another Planet
  • Liebestraum
  • Miss Thing and the Surrealist*
  • Valdemosa
  • Amateur Gardening
  • The Little House*
  • Esmeralda
  • Music When Soft Voices Die
  • Cyclamen Brown
  • Couleur de Rose
  • The Lovers*
  • The Other Passenger*
Copies of the full collection are available from on-line sellers, starting in the $20 range.  The paperback is (of course) available for less.

Give it a try.  I think you'll be impressed.


  1. This is a fantastic collection of stories. "The Glass Eye was adapted for the Alfred Hitchcock TV series with Jessica Tandy as the lonely woman smitten with the ventriloquist. One of the creepiest episodes of that series and one of the best horror stories about a ventriloquist, IMO.

    The original UK edition of THE OTHER PASSENGER has some utterly surreal illustrations in full color by artist Bruce Angrave. I'll post them later tonight for your viewing pleasure.