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Author Topic: PC145: Hart and Boot  (Read 10583 times)
Talia
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« on: February 22, 2011, 11:24:27 AM »

PodCastle 145: Hart and Boot

by Tim Pratt.

Read by Amy Elk.

Originally appeared in Polyphony 4.

“You have any money?” Pearl said. She didn’t have any more bullets, but she could hit him on the head with her gun, if he had something worth stealing.

“I don’t think so.”

She sighed. “Get out of that hole. I’m getting a crick in my neck, looking down at you.”

He climbed out and stood before her, covered in dirt from head to toe, naked except for a pair of better-than-average boots. Hardly standard uniform for a miner, but she didn’t get flustered. She’d seen her share of naked men during her eighteen years on earth, and she had to admit he was one of the nicest she’d seen, dirt and all, with those broad shoulders. Back in Canada (after seeing the Wild West show, but before deciding to leave her husband) she’d had several dreams about a tall, faceless man coming toward her bed, naked except for cowboy boots.

Apart from the dirt, and the lack of a bed, and her not being asleep and all, this was just like the dream.


Rated R for: sexuality, language.
« Last Edit: March 15, 2011, 09:35:58 AM by Talia » Logged
Wilson Fowlie
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« Reply #1 on: February 23, 2011, 12:32:22 PM »

I enjoyed this.  I'm a little bemused that Pearl managed to get herself knocked up by a manifestation of her own fantasies.  That's some weird kind of parthenogenesis, that is.  But I guess it proves that she has a fertile imagination.  Cheesy

Besides admiring Pearl's strength of character and sympathizing with her frustration with society continually underestimating her, I liked that Pearl decided, jujitsu-like, to use that fact as its weakness.  And I enjoyed her non-lateral solutions to her problems - the payback to the governor was particularly lovely, though I'd have preferred to see him brought down a bit.

And, although hearing "propriety" pronounced "propety" was a touch jarring, I thought Amy's reading was generally good.
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« Reply #2 on: February 23, 2011, 01:18:12 PM »

For those who enjoyed this story and want to see more of Pearl Hart, check out this yarn.
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« Reply #3 on: February 23, 2011, 01:38:09 PM »

My enjoyment of this generally awesome story was harmed by a lack of sympathy for Pearl. I mean, she was stylish and interesting, and her characterization was extremely strong. She was also a murderous, larcenous, cold-hearted bitch. I understand that being a woman in 1800s America was rough, but she liked to rob people for fun, blatantly used and manipulated everyone around her, and at least once tried to kill a woman out of a momentary fit of pique.

While I normally have a place in my heart for anti-heroes - admittedly, a small place, as anti-heroes are not my favorite idiom - I found the ending a little too disturbing. I mean, Pearl is going to raise a kid. Pearl - borderline, antisocial, possibly even sociopathic Pearl - is going to raise a kid. I shudder to think what kind of childhood that poor kid is going to have.

So, in the final arithmetic, a clever and well-written story, with a strong voice and a fascinating permise, but I just didn't like the character enough. I think I would have preferred her to either experience a little more growth or rot in prison for the rest of her life :-/.
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« Reply #4 on: February 23, 2011, 02:58:00 PM »

For those who enjoyed this story and want to see more of Pearl Hart, check out this yarn.

I liked this Hart and Boot a lot better: stylish villains rather than unsympathetic antiheroes, Hart as a violent sociopath somewhat redeemed by her strange relationship with Boot, Boot as an alien thing rendered somewhat human by his strange relationship with Hart. I thought this story was a lot stronger than the one we just heard.
« Last Edit: February 23, 2011, 02:59:57 PM by ElectricPaladin » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: February 23, 2011, 03:13:11 PM »

For those who enjoyed this story and want to see more of Pearl Hart, check out this yarn.

I liked this Hart and Boot a lot better: stylish villains rather than unsympathetic antiheroes, Hart as a violent sociopath somewhat redeemed by her strange relationship with Boot, Boot as an alien thing rendered somewhat human by his strange relationship with Hart. I thought this story was a lot stronger than the one we just heard.

I like what you have to say, except: Spoilers, man!
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« Reply #6 on: February 23, 2011, 05:40:40 PM »

I read this one in the titular short story collection, and mostly have to echo EP.  I liked the story, but man was it hard to root for Pearl...
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danooli
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« Reply #7 on: February 23, 2011, 07:05:41 PM »

wow, this story was a fun little romp, but i also agree that Pearl wasn't a very sympathetic character.  I really, really wanted to want to root for her. The end does make me hopeful that she has changed and that her baby and she will live happily ever after. That John Boot's goodness finally rubbed off on her.  But, I'm naive like that.

I was reminded of the Marla Mason series by Tim Pratt after this.  The relationship between Pearl and John Boot was kind of similar to Marla and her associate Rondeau  Smiley
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« Reply #8 on: February 23, 2011, 08:18:33 PM »

  I did not like this story at first, due in no small part to Pearl being pretty unlikable, but it grew on me as it went. Overall I quite enjoyed it.

  As the story progressed I found myself seeing Pearl as Haruhi Suzumiya. I guess because they are both complete sociopaths. I think this helped in my enjoyment of the story though.
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« Reply #9 on: February 23, 2011, 11:22:09 PM »

Just a note that my Pearl Hart is based on the real Pearl Hart, about whom you can read a bit here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Hart

I came across various sources about Pearl and Joe/John Boot, many of them contradictory, and of course as a writer I picked and chose which pieces to believe and include here, and I simplified and combined things a bit, too. I intended this story as a sort of secret history, though -- I didn't want to violate any known facts about her history, while putting forth a fantastical explanation for parts of that history. (That Wikipedia entry, which says Boot became a trusty and rode off in a wagon, is a lot less interesting than other versions I've read, where he simply wasn't in his cell one day. Obviously I went with that one.)

The other story linked upstream is a bizarre weird western alternate universe story, and I played rather faster and looser with Pearl's personality there.
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danooli
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« Reply #10 on: February 24, 2011, 06:51:21 AM »

I was reminded of the Marla Mason series by Tim Pratt after this.  The relationship between Pearl and John Boot was kind of similar to Marla and her associate Rondeau  Smiley


I just wanted to add, upon reflection, that while Marla is one helluva badass character, she's a whole like more likable that Pearl.

Now, knowing that Pearl was based on a real life person...well, she's a tad bit more intriguing!
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« Reply #11 on: February 24, 2011, 09:18:18 AM »

Just a note that my Pearl Hart is based on the real Pearl Hart, about whom you can read a bit here:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pearl_Hart

I came across various sources about Pearl and Joe/John Boot, many of them contradictory, and of course as a writer I picked and chose which pieces to believe and include here, and I simplified and combined things a bit, too. I intended this story as a sort of secret history, though -- I didn't want to violate any known facts about her history, while putting forth a fantastical explanation for parts of that history. (That Wikipedia entry, which says Boot became a trusty and rode off in a wagon, is a lot less interesting than other versions I've read, where he simply wasn't in his cell one day. Obviously I went with that one.)

The other story linked upstream is a bizarre weird western alternate universe story, and I played rather faster and looser with Pearl's personality there.

Hey, neat!  Thanks for posting that link, Tim.  I had not heard of the real Hart and Boot.

This story was fun.  Yeah, Pearl was not exactly sympathetic, but I enjoyed her manner of storytelling and I was curious how she ended up so it didn't particularly bother me that I wasn't rooting for a happy ending. 

I did think she was not so smart to get herself locked up in a real penitentiary just for her pride, assuming that somehow Boot could get her out.  She didn't think that one through much... but that's pretty consistent with her character, so it works.

Her method of escaping prison was an interesting one that I only figured out when she told Boot she wanted his baby.  Good twist consistent with the rest of the story.  Well told!
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« Reply #12 on: February 25, 2011, 11:33:53 AM »

I really enjoyed this story, and knowing it is based on historical events brings a whole new, enjoyable twist to it (thanks for sharing that information, Tim).

I have to say I didn’t have the problem others did with finding Heart to be unsympathetic, yes she did some bad things, but in the end I found her plight to be rather moving.  I have to admit, some of that stems from the soft spot I have for characters who are almost a force of nature.  But I also empathize with the desire to be truly free and I see Heart trying to grab freedom in what may have been the only way open to her (and it certainly seemed to me that it seemed to her to be the only way open to her).
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jenfullmoon
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« Reply #13 on: February 25, 2011, 12:26:02 PM »

I enjoyed Pearl for what she was: foul but entertaining. And it's interesting how Boot was (sorta) the love of her life and her voice of reason, as well as his reason for him to stay around. I still wonder how a semi-corporeal guy keeps impregnating-- and yeah, I'm unnerved by her finally deciding to become a mother herself-- but...

Well, it was an interesting story!
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« Reply #14 on: February 25, 2011, 01:20:11 PM »

I enjoyed the story, and didn't have a problem with Hart as the protagonist. It seems my reading includes a fair number of these types... Westlake/Stark's "Parker" novels for example; Parker is a professional thief who does not particularly enjoy killing people but will not hesitate to do so if it is the most efficient way to get his money. Westlake's Dortmunder is staunchly nonviolent; burglary is his modus operandi, but he's still a criminal. And many Zelazny protagonists are self-centered and amoral prats.

(So I still can't figure why Jayne and Mal really put me off Firefly.)
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« Reply #15 on: February 25, 2011, 02:46:12 PM »

Pearl reminded me of an elderly relative I once had in east Texas. That woman wasn't friendly to anyone for anything and she didn't care what you thought about it. It made me feel like I knew Pearl. I was rooting for her and wanted her to "win". (It's like they say, "He may be a bastard, but he's our bastard.") I was happy with the way this one ended.
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« Reply #16 on: February 25, 2011, 04:52:44 PM »

Good story, good telling. Honestly the only part that I felt was weak was that John Boot just... appeared. I kind of wanted there to be more to that. But I really liked this one overall.
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« Reply #17 on: February 26, 2011, 12:12:48 PM »

I enjoyed that immensely and liked Pearl a lot--not that I'd ever want to run into her.  Thought Amy Elk's reading was particularly good. 
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Lena
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« Reply #18 on: February 27, 2011, 12:44:50 AM »

Damnn y'all, Pearl is a gal I can really get, a fine Canadian gal sticking it to the man!
loved the story, kinda wishing I could find a boot of my own at the moment Wink
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« Reply #19 on: February 27, 2011, 10:23:12 PM »

PrattCastle. Hah.
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