A fan-drawn "Down in the Bottomlands" map, based on information stated in the novella. It may not reflect Harry Turtledove's intention with complete accuracy.

The Hereditary Tyranny of Tartesh was one of the nations on the Great Continent.[1] It stretched from the Western Ocean inland to the Krepalgan Unity in the east. To the south, it shared the Bottomlands with the Principality of Lissonland. Off the northwest coast was Tartesh's long time enemy the Kingdom of Morgaf.[2] Its capital city was Tarteshem.

Tartesh was populated by Strongbrows and ruled by the Hereditary Tyrant (currently Bortav vez Pamdal). Over the centuries, Tartesh fought numerous wars with Morgaf but achieved an uneasy peace with them for the last twenty years of the 20th century.[3] Many believed this was due to the invention of the starbomb some fifty years prior.[4]

Still, despite the peace, Tartesh remained a martial society. Everyone was expected to serve two years in the Hereditary Tyrant's Volunteer Guard.[5] Moreover, the Hereditary Tyrant had a secret police force called the Eyes and Ears.[6]

The Bottomlands were a key part of Tartesh's economy. In addition to the mineral wealth and petroleum in the Bottomlands,[7] Tartesh also built power stations on several rivers in the Bottomlands. These produced 3/4 of Tartesh's electricity.[8] Trench Park in the Bottomlands was a major tourist attraction that brought people in from all over the world.

In the closing days of the 20th century, Morgaf and the Krepalgan Unity conspired detonate a starbomb along a faultline which would have destroyed the Barrier Mountains and flooded the Bottomlands. The two would have then attacked Tartesh, with the Krepalgans having access to a newly created sea. Two agents, Evillia and Lofosa, came very close succeeding. They two took poison pills to escape catpure from Tartesh forces after planting the bomb, and a koprit bird stole the detonators, inadvertently deactivating the bomb.[9]

Literary comment[]

The name Tartesh resembles Tartessos (or Tarshish, among other variants), a Bronze Age civilization in southern Spain about which very little is known. S.M. Stirling's Nantucket Series depicts Tartessos in a speculative manner, and shows time traveler Ian Arnstein, a fictional analog of Harry Turtledove, encountering people from Tartessos.


  1. See, e.g., We Install and Other Stories, loc. 2326-2347.
  2. Ibid., loc. 2506.
  3. Ibid.
  4. Ibid., loc. 2785.
  5. Ibid., loc. 2439.
  6. Ibid., loc. 2770-2782.
  7. Ibid., loc. 2416.
  8. Ibid., lco. 2561.
  9. Ibid, loc. 3887-3910.