Great discussion as always! I love this story. A few thoughts, with the usual caveat that I haven't read any Wolfe scholarship or interpretation beyond the podcast: The name "Cutthroat": whether or not the protagonist is a human or native of the planet (and I agree with you that he's human), in this ecosystem of northern totems I thought of a cutthroat trout or salmon - a creature whose great purpose in life is an arduous journey to lay the groundwork for the next generation. Along those lines, I agree with the reading that on the symbolic level, this is (like Pilgrim's Progress) a story of the soul striving to return to its home in God. That moment where the protagonist realizes that the Great Sleigh can hear him rings strongly of a mystical experience of prayer. And I do see Mantru as a descendant of a much older human presence on the planet, rather than a failed questor, although that's a nice interpretation as well.
In Mr Million's lesson in the library David says : " The abos are human because the are all dead." and then explains "If they were alive it would be dangerous to let them be human because they'd ask for things, but with them dead it makes it more interesting if they were, and the settlers killed them all." Question: How can the abo's both be dead AND human?
Really enjoyed your coverage of this one; I read the Dying Earth tales some years ago and am coincidentally reading the Demon Princes now. I remember being much more enthusiastic about the Cugel the clever stories than the Turjan ones, partly because the hilariously mannered dialogue is more polished in the Cugel tales and partly because they more satisfyingly (?) address some of the plot and ethical critiques you brought up: the Cugel stories are unashamedly picaresque, with one adventure screen-wiping into another with nary a look back, and the relentless up-and-down beats make that work pretty well. Then, the universe of Cugel is entirely amoral: "The rain it raineth on the just,/ And also on the unjust fella;/ But chiefly on the just, because/ The unjust hath the just's umbrella." Because nearly everyone is terrible and we know it, it's fun to root for Cugel to get his comeuppance and then to root for him to somehow land on his feet before going back to rooting against him.