Timely: The Weight of Dust

On June 26th, Timely, the newest Phoenix Fiction Writers anthology, came out!


Choose to stay enslaved in the belly of a submarine because it is all you’ve known, or risk the open door to freedom.

Choose to carry out the mission you were created for, or go against your programming to protect someone you love.

Choose to be chained by the hurts of the past, or have the courage to start fresh with the people who matter to you.

Choose the easy way out because it was offered, or make the ultimate sacrifice to end a war.

From clockwork toymakers, to robots, to submarines, and time travel, you will find yourself transported and entertained as these nine innovative stories examine how the past and future weigh on the present.

Every year, PFW’s anthologies get better. It is one of my favorite things, watching my favorite authors grow in their craft and tackle more nuanced, powerful, imaginative stories.

Timely is no different.

This anthology started from the prompt of the title and an image of a clock. Yet as I read these stories, it became clearer and clearer how much more deeply these nine tales are connected. As fellow PFW author J.E. Purrazzi put it, the unexpected theme of grief and healing came through as well.

One story that beautifully highlights all those themes, intentional and unintentional, is Grace Crandall’s “The Weight of Dust.”

There’s a child in his kitchen. Which is very strange, since the clockwork butler hasn’t seen a human in years.Not since the end of the war. Not since the sky turned red, and the ashfall covered the world outside the butler’s empty house.With a broken body, in a broken world–what is left, except to fix what you can?

This was unfortunately only the second of Crandall’s stories that I’ve read, but each one has blown me away. She tells stories in the same way she creates art, using words as her medium to paint vibrant, gentle, striking stories that make you view reality in a new and clearer way, revealing unexpected, beautiful contrasts.

The clockwork butler’s perspective is an achingly beautiful example of the stages of grief and of courageous grit. This story is set in what seems to be a fantastical version of a post-World-War-air-raid London, with devastation told through the state of the buildings and the absence of what should be there.

The theme of tenacity, of moving forward in the midst of your own brokenness, was woven beautifully into this story–and yes, I should probably stop using the word beautiful, but every word and image was so carefully chosen that I can’t think of another word that fits.

Go read this anthology. Wherever you are currently at, it will gently water your soul with hope and courage.

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