Alice, Godiva, and James talk inside a bowling alley. Alice recognizes James as Adam Chase, the son of cult leader Michael Chase. Michael tried to work around the damage to the human brain caused by exposure to Macrobes by binding one to an infant. James admits his new identity and goes to leave, but Godiva convinces him to stay. Alice then fills James in on the war between the Macrobes, humanity's role as pawns, and Morgan's role in Victor's death. Catskinner makes an agreement with Alice to listen to her, and later makes another agreement, this time with Godiva, allowing her to get close to James.
Godiva and James talk in his room about Alice, Macrobes, and Catskinner. Godiva convinces Catskinner that James might have needs beyond those of survival, and that it is best for James and Catskinner if the Macrobe does not interfere. The couple fall asleep in each other's arms.
The next day, Catskinner asks if Alice wants Morgan killed. An agreement between the four beings is made. To draw Morgan out, they will attack the Manchester nest. In preparation, they go shopping. James can't help but peek on Godiva while she changes, only to discover that Godiva has male parts. James shrugs off the shock and kisses Godiva.
Catskinner walks into the middle of the Manchester nest, ready to fight. However, the Macrobe possessing the nest instead accedes to Godiva's demand that it stop working with Morgan. After a bit more pressure, the alien gives up a warehouse where Morgan keeps his money.
That said, it is Godiva's plant-animal duality that interests me more. She likely could not maintain the strange hormonal mix in her body without the plant symbiotes inside of her. Her vegetable side allows synthesis of some chemically complex compounds and provides other benefits that will soon to be useful. Her vegetable side is also important symbolically as well. In certain schools of esoterica, it is thought that the current animal self of man emerged from a vegetable self. And, when we do meet more of Godiva's kin, we do see that she is unique, keeping her higher brain functions where her kin lose them. Additionally, the vegetable self is also tied to restoration. Not only does Godiva heal quickly, her presence is also restoring James to something more closely resembling humanity. Or at least as close to normal as two vessels to matter-rewriting aliens can get. The plant-animal mix is also relatively unique in science fiction. Certainly the inclusion of chlorophyll into animal life is a moldy oldie of the genre, but the mixing of plant and animal symbiotes so thoroughly is something I haven't seen outside of the Orks of Warhammer 40k. (Thankfully, there's no such thing as an Ork female, not that Godiva would ever resemble one of those hypothetical beings.) However, her relatively unchecked sexual drive is characteristic in esoterica of the animal self being unbalanced. As strange as Godiva is, she is just the first in a string of subverted exceptions, for, with her revelation, Catskinner's Book starts to get alien, with even stranger surprises to come.
As Misha Burnett commented in an earlier post, C. S. Lewis is a significant influence on the cosmology of Catskinner's Book. Whether called by Macrobe, eldil, or a specific Hebraic name befitting their position in the choir of aliens, the extraterrestrial entities echo those seen in Lewis's Space Trilogy. But while the populace of the world of Catskinner's Book bear Lewis's stamp, they are arranged in a more Lovecraftian cosmology. Gone is the Scala Natura, or the well-ordered hierarchies of nature that work together for order and good. While ecologies of Macrobes are referenced, it is clear that humanity has no place in it except as disposable pawns of little more value than plastic green army men toys. The universe is uncaring, and there is no safety or purpose in hierarchy. The choirs of the Macrobes might as well be Old Ones.
Next time: "Federal Agent! Keep your hands where I can see them."