I haven't gone through the latest two podcast by you guys, but I have just completed reading unto the point.
But this section is packed so much with content that I am just going to pen my thoughts.
1. Cultural difference between Saint Anne & Croix.
From the text we can safely assume that that these twin planets were colonized by French at the same time, and that's why they are refereed to as the sister planets.
Also Marsch observes in one of his notes that the first colonization(probable French) helped developed the human like form of Abos in the first place, and this was the conclusion we can draw from A Story too. But that's where the similarities stop.
From the questioning's of Marsch we come to know that Saint Croix has a sham of justice system, the state thinks that it is god, and whatever it does serves the truth, so anyone it suspects must be guilty of done something wrong.
Also there is no concept of prisoner rights in this society, even answering basic questions of a prisoner is considered as endorsement that the prisoner may not be guilty. It's really a weird system.
Also keeping slaves in the society has been a law of sort passed by government itself, and exclusively during early times they had french slaves, but the rich french can buy themselves a ticket out of this system, it's a complete form of corrupt government.
We don't have any inferences from the text as to how Saint Anne is governed, but nonetheless it's also worse here, because any English speaking person can and have sieged the property of French speaking natives. The only positive here is that they don't have any slave system in that society, and the French and English seem to be co-existing.
2. The war.
Now we surely know from the text that a war was fought between the French & English speaking people, and on both the planets, and the English speaking people have emerged victors in it, but in this section we also get a reference that again we have a war going on between Saint Anne & Croix.
Now why the first war was fought, has been so far a mystery to us, and we conclude that Wolfe does not agree with Star Trek vision of federation of planets, but his vision is somewhat similar to Operation Ares, where we have militarily ruled dictator nations on Earth, who developed technology to travel far and beyond.
Now regarding the second war, we also don't have much of clue as to why it is being fought.
3. The Abos.
Now from the text we can conclude that their were multiple species of abos present on Saint Anne, the species we know are
These are just some of the species which we have come across so far in the text, out of that Hill people and Meadow mere people surely had same anatomy like humans.
The trees are a complete mystery because we have encountered them just once in text when sandwalker comes across seven girls waiting residing at its root.
What if the shadow children are also abos but a corrupted form of them, where in they got so intoxicated by the drug, that they were not able to maintain their human form completely. The drug expanded their consciousness, but left them completely devoid of their abo powers to transform into human anatomical form, but due to vicinity with humans, their consciousness has also mixed with humans, which has led them to believe that they themselves are humans.
Also the bite of a shadow child transforms consciousness from one personality to other, what if Maitre's developed slaves which was a cross between Tree Abo and shadow child abo, which makes the demimondaines in cave canem so irresistible. May be Casilla is one of his few genetic failures which he sold to the Saint Croix military, this may explain the officer washing himself up at the end of the section.
The trees are really fascinating because in hill people culture not only are they revered but they are consider as to be gods themselves, which brings me to the temple site, which Marsch is shown by Trenchard, my observations are
1. The site is huge.
2. The trees are so evenly spaced to each other, it is as if by magic.
3. 127 Saint Anne years I think is really less period for development for such huge site, although it's Saint Anne atmospheric conditions may have changed.
The temple looks to be definitely an interesting site to me.
4. V.R.T. & Marsch
Again we have a dichotomy here, in one case we have a anthropologist whose technique of study to shoot it first, and we have Victor who has lived in nature most of his life, he has seen many magical things which he can't explain in words.
Although we haven't come to that part, but someone has died on the expedition which Marsch undertakes, also Marsch does not seem a type to me who will live for 3 years in mountains, also what rouses the suspicion further is that suddenly Marsch appears out of no where in Laon, stays their for a year, and tries to study more, and contact the university department of anthropology.
Marsch also sends a radiogram to Trenchard, informing him of his son's death, gains weight, and does his beard done by a specific barber.
At the end of section we have Marsch/V.R.T writing in prison without using his thumb, which seems a hard process for a human being.
5. Free people/hill people
This another interesting part of the story because V.R.T tells us that his ancestor was Eastwind, who we clearly know was a meadow mere abo, but he does not identify himself with meadow mere culture of Abos, who clearly searched the heavens for some sign.
Another fact is Eastwind was castrated by the meadow mere abos, then how did his genial line progress ? Again brings to the fore the question as to how the abos reproduce.
He identifies himself with the hill people whom he considers as free people, these species of abos believed that you don't need to look at the heavens to sign from god, but god can be found in nature.