Writer: Scott H. Andrews
Weird Tales Story: Excision (Issue #347, Nov/Dec 2007)
Writer Bio: Scott H. Andrews is a chemistry lecturer, a musician, an amateur historian, a luthier, a connoisseur of zymurgy, and a writer. His story A Brief Swell of Twilight won the 2006 Fiction Award from the Briar Cliff Review.
When friends read my genre fiction, they often chuckle at the irony of a Ph.D. chemist writing not science fiction but fantasy. I find it ironic as well -couldn’t I be getting some cool use out of all those years in grad school? But the single most interesting thing for me in those years of schooling wasn’t the science, it was the people. Science is a method or a mindset -one I most certainly have, or my bookshelves wouldn’t be organized chronologically. Science is discovering information and designing application. But it’s not quirks and contradictions, like people are or life can be. It’s not awe-inspiring absurdities. And in this hypermodern age, it’s no longer the breathlessly unexpected.
That must be why I write fantasy. I want those quirks and contradictions, in characters and their worlds. I want awe, regardless of whether infection-draining magic or giant winged lizards are scientifically possible. I want the breathlessly unexpected to burst from the page, while also telling me something about who we humans really are.
Fantasy is by no means the only canvas for capturing these traits, but it’s ideal for emphasizing them because it allows us to exaggerate them to entertaining and symbolic levels. Fantasy doesn’t have to focus on science, or on a murder mystery or a scheme for global domination, so it’s free to be about the people. They move through the awe of their exaggerated surroundings, revealing their human quirks and contradictions. Their stories captivate us with the unexpected, while also illuminating our own humanity. And that has to be the single coolest use for infection-draining magic or giant winged lizards.