THE DEEP ONES: "The Fog Horn" by Ray Bradbury
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Discussion begins November 15, 2017.
First published in the June 23, 1951 issue of The Saturday Evening Post.
SELECTED PRINT VERSIONS
The Golden Apples of the Sun
The Vintage Bradbury
American Supernatural Tales
R Is for Rocket
I wonder if this story also supplied some inspiration for the Tom Baker Doctor Who serial "The Horror of Fang Rock." On the other hand, both might have been suggested by "Flannan Isle," quoted in the latter.
It did have to leave the water to wreck the lighthouse, but that long neck and its ability to survive underwater sure sounds a lot like a plesiosaur. It's definitely not the "Rhedosaurus" from the movie, although that dino is definitely one of the coolest in all of cinema.
Acc'd said WP entry, "The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms" is the original title of the short story, altho the later title is also Bradbury's.
A fair cop, but to be honest, I found this story more "scientific" in its tone and concerns than, say, The Martian Chronicles. All that stuff about the slow trip up from the deeps in order to gradually equalize pressure, for instance. The way in which curiosity and empathy predominates over dread or fear seems to marginalize "The Fog Horn" from the horror genre. I know Bradbury is "a science fiction author" for many who have read little science fiction, but I identify him with horror at least as much as sf anyway.
Ah! Bradbury's original title was indeed "The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms". The studio bought the story rights, including the title. Bradbury then switched his tale's title to (the much more Bradburian-sounding) "The Fog Horn" in order to to distance it from the film in future anthologies and collections. Did not know this until now - thanks!
I think we should distinguish between scientificness and sciencefictionness (to coin two horrible neologisms) in literature. This one is relatively high in the former and low in the latter - The Martian Chronicles are the other way around, while say Mission of Gravity is high in both and most literature is low in both.
Plenty of opportunity for terror or horror, of whatever variety, but for the most part Bradbury chooses to sidestep that in favour of the empathy -- an empathy I think is more detachment than poignant, but in any case rooted in observation. That accounts for the "scientificness" as much as anything.
I also found The Martian Chronicles more humanist than science fiction when I re-read it recently. This story shares the same emotional register, if not the same setting.
ETA McDunn's evolutionary perspective (narrating over millions of years, and considering a being which waits disinterestedly as humanity goes its trivial way on the surface) does have a certain affinity for HPL's cosmic indifference.
I was young when I first read "The Foghorn" - 12 years old at most. I was struck by it, and felt a strong sympathy for the monster, in the way that children can be deeply moved by a sad story or song (for example, "Puff, the Magic Dragon").
>4 paradoxosalpha: I don't find McDunn's character curious, because I've read plenty of Bradbury's stories featuring a wise (or maybe only poetically sententious) father-figure. What I realised on re-reading the story, is that he precipitates near-catastrophe by switching off the Fog Horn "to see what happens" - not so wise, then.
To me, McDunn didn't tell the rescuers about the sea creature because he didn't want it to be hunted down. Maybe spending his life watching fishing boats had given him ample proof that it's what men do.