What a fantastic piece of writing. I could read a whole series of novels about Sandwalker of the hill people. The many questions that you both brought up really added a lot to think about in this story. In my opinion all of the abos didn’t mimic humans. The oasis tree was still an abo and that is why Sandwalker‘s greeting was responded to by the tree. I also think that the abo’s in various forms can mate with each other. I believe the tree was the father of Seven Girls Waiting’s baby. The line about Sandwalker’s tree growing wasn’t the author just being cute with the euphemisms. The line about the humans removing themselves so the abo’s could take them is the humans removing their spacesuits and losing access to their technology.
I am still puzzled on how John V Marsch is connected to this story other than his name in the title and his green eyes. Also when did this story occur in relation to The Fifth Head of Cerberus. The extremely different types of stories that are supposed to be connected and don’t seem to be would be very difficult for any other author to pull off. In most cases I would stop reading at this point because I would be thinking that the author is just trying to show how clever they are. Wolfe has done such a masterful job I think it will all connect in the third story and am interested in finding out how he does it.