There’s an awful lot of Tim Pratt stories on the Escape Artists podcast, most of which I enjoy, so it’s hard to pick out one in particular to talk about. But recently, I thought their reading of Hart and Boot, by Tim Pratt, was an especially good example.
Loosely based on a real stagecoach robber named Pearl Hart, the first title character is a total hellcat. The fierceness in her adventures make her fun to read about, but you wouldn’t want to cross her path unawares. The second title character is the perfect man for her, Joe Boot, which is to say, he is the fantasy element.
I like how they both play against expectations. I like how she is such a vivid character, while he is at times a literal shadow. I like how the magic works in the story, without ever being explained.
Together they wander the Southwest in the waning days of the 19th century, she causing trouble, he suffering quietly. It’s a beautiful partnership that can’t last.
Collected in Hart & Boot & Other Stories, and Best American Short Stories 2005.