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From: "Robert Borski" <rborski@charter.net>
Subject: (whorl) Pajarocu
Date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 20:49:06 

Some random thoughts about Pajarocu, the phantom town.

The name apparently derives from pajarraco, Spanish for 'mysterious bird'
(pÓjaro = bird), which ties in with Wijzer's little fable about the
pajarocu, which "has never been painted and nobody him can see." Wolfe may
also be attempting to link Pajarocu, where the inhumi roam with impunity,
with Quetzal, the "mysterious bird" of the LONG SUN series. Pajarocu is
mysterious because it is not permanently sited, being, in essence, Platonic
and portable and difficult to find (more below).

Several reasons have been advanced previously for why the citizens of
Pajarocu are not preyed upon by the inhumi. (I still love the beer theory!)
Here are three more, plus a modification, that I don't think have been
suggested:

1) When Horn finally does manage to find the phantom city, he notes the
presence of "colossal images of Hierax, Tartaros, and the rest, called by
outlandish sobriquets and the objects of strange, cruel veneration." Given
that the people of Pajarocu seem like the Whorlish equivalents of
Mesoamericans, I immediately wondered if they practiced human sacrifice, the
way the Aztecs did--this perhaps being the "strange, cruel veneration" that
Horn mentions, with Xipe Totec and Tlazolteotl (among others) being the
aforesaid sobriquets. The sacrificial victims, or their blood, could then be
given to the inhumi in exchange for freedom from predation. Unfortunately,
there seems to be little evidence of or for this, at least in the narrative
that Horn tells.

2) The citizens of Pajarocu suffer terribly from thyroid disease. At least
that's how I'm interpreting the following passage: "There is a disease among
them that causes the throat to swell. At first I believed it a disease of
women only, because the first few sufferers I saw were all women, but
He-hold-fire had it, as did various other men." The physical disfigurement
involved may be enough to scare the inhumi off, as might the collateral
thyroxine deficiency, if iodine is a necessary inhumi nutrient. Sounds to me
like a Gahan Wilson or a Farside outtake, with the sauve Count Dracula about
to take a love bite out of a potential victim, only to discover a monstrous
goiter.

3) According to Horn, the phantom city of Pajarocu goes elsewhere when "the
streets are badly fouled or the river rises." This ties in with my theory
that the inhumi are able to breed in the sewers of Blue. Jahlee claims that
the necessary nutrients aren't present, but I believe she's lying; human
excrement is eaten by all sorts of animals, and is rich in bilirubin
diglucuronide, which the inhumi might actually favor because of its heme
moiety. Somehow or other the Pajarocuans may have intuited that the inhumi
can breed in foul conditions, and this is why they decamp every time the
sewage level builds up, or the river (which may be the local lavoratory)
floods over; possibly they've even threatened to share the knowledge with
the rest of Blue's colonists, resulting in a kind of truce between the two.
You don't drink our blood; we don't spread the knowledge about your breeding
grounds. Note the achievement of civil engineer Inclito, who brags about
designing better sewers; plus factor in the lesson Horn is supposed to have
learned by cleaning the Great Sewer on Green, and it all begins to connect.

4) Then again, perhaps beer IS the answer: if you drink enough of it, as the
Pajarocuans apparently do, maybe you just don't realize there are giant
flying leeches sucking away your life's essence or you think they're
imaginary, like double-trunked, carnation-colored pachyderms.

Robert Borski


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