The Fog Horn
"The Fog Horn" is a 1951 science fiction short story by Ray Bradbury, and the first in his collection The Golden Apples of the Sun. The story was the basis for the 1953 film The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms.
The plot follows Johnny, the protagonist and narrator, and his boss, McDunn, who are putting in a night's work at a remote lighthouse. The lighthouse's resonating fog horn attracts a sea monster who destroys the place. This was actually the third time the monster had visited the lighthouse. He had been attracted by the same fog horn on the same night the two earlier years. McDunn attributes the monster's actions to feelings of unrequited love for the lighthouse, whose fog horn sounds exactly like the wailings of the sea monster himself. The fog horn tricks the monster into thinking he has found another of his kind, one who acts as though the monster did not even exist. When the horn is turned off, the monster destroys the lighthouse in anger. Both workers survive the incident, and within a year the lighthouse is rebuilt, this time with reinforced concrete. The protagonist mentions that he has since been married with a home and a new job, while McDunn is now the building's new master. The monster never returned and McDunn mentions that it probably went back to the deeps to wait until mankind is gone before it looks for others of its kind again.
The original title of the story was The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms. It was published in The Saturday Evening Post. Meanwhile a film with a similar theme of prehistoric sea monster was being shot under the working title of Monster from Beneath the Sea. Later the producers, who wished to share Bradbury's reputation and popularity, bought the rights to Bradbury's story and changed their film's title. Bradbury then changed the title of his story to The Fog Horn. The monster of the film was based on the illustration of The Saturday Evening Post.
Bradbury says that the idea for the story came from seeing the ruins of a demolished roller coaster on a Los Angeles-area beach. The tracks suggested a dinosaur skeleton. He credits this story with earning him the attention of John Huston, who engaged Bradbury to write the screenplay for the 1956 film version of Moby Dick.
After its initial publication in The Saturday Evening Post in 1951, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms was renamed The Fog Horn and was reprinted in various collections such as the 1953 publication The Golden Apples of the Sun, the Japanese publications The Fog Horn & Other Stories in 1979 and The Fog Horn and Other Stories in 1981 (both editions were published in English as well), and finally Dinosaur Tales in 1983.
A play based on the short story was included in Bradbury's Pillar of Fire and Other Plays in 1975.
Many years later the idea set down in this story was used in one of the early episodes of the TV series "Pokemon", in which the owner of a lighthouse uses the horn and a recording to call a Dragonite to his tower. Leonard Nimoy (Star Trek's Mr. Spock) claims this story was part of the inspiration behind Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.
In 1953 in the comic book Tales of Horror #7 an un-credited version of this story is presented as "The Beast From The Deep", and has cover story art clearly derivative of the original story.
- The Fog Horn title listing at the Internet Speculative Fiction Database
- Un-credited comic book version at comicbookplus.com