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From One Hell of A Bird on Deviantart


This is the world of The Golden Compass/Northern Lights (and the Lyra's Oxford "Globetrotter" gazetteer, now available here) by Philip Pullman: this work's richness smote me so hard that it's shaped my own career. The trilogy starts in a parallel world that actually closely resembles Kingsley Amis's The Alteration--a planet mostly ruled by an Ortho-Catho-Calvinist church drawn from the worst fever dreams of Jack Chick and Dan Brown (though it's authentically Renaissance). When John Calvin was elected Pope (presumably to dismantle the office) he moved the Curia to Geneva and ever since then the center of gravity for Christendom has moved all around, with power settling back in the genevois Consistory in the 20th century.



The world of HDM has two distinct "feels" to it, one Baroque and one Victorian. Technologically there's zeppelins, rifles, polar expeditions, photograms, package steamship tours, and science-fictional tech like "atomcraft." And then there's a constant stream of signs and wonders, worthy of the bygone world of Blaeu, Testu, Lopo Homem, Kircher, John White, Richard Hakluyt, William Dampier, Walter Raleigh, and even Marco Polo and Mandeville (or Lord Darcy for that matter). So most of the map is based on those of IRL 1700 and 1789, with a lot of 1910.



The Great Powers that carved up our whole world 1860-1911 have been far, far weaker here. Cultures are more mixed--there's enough Native American Skrælings to have some be fanatical agents of the Holy Office, enough Welsh to affect Brytain's spelling, enough zombis for the GOB to buy a whole army of 'em from Benin, and Afric clockwork spy-bugs that use demons as their guiding intelligence and mechanical power. In some ways it scratches Alternate History's usual itch of letting the "losers" of history win.



Muscovy is described as facing constant Tartar invasion even though it's reached the Black Sea [Odessa and Novorossisk are listed in Once Upon a Time in the North, and Muscovy isn't described as having any "South Tartars" on the Dnieper]. There are tigers (and the wild Lithuanians who worship them) still running around right at the doorsteps of Warsaw and St. Petersburg. Brytain has to deal with child-snatchers abducting children to be sold in the Levant.



As in the Baroque vision of the world, there are nonhuman species and unconquered cultures--windsuckers, blood-eagle Breathless Ones, cliff-ghasts, hungry nälkäinen ghosts, and who-knows-what-else outside of the Far North. Pullman's universe has a teeming multiplicity of metaphysics: there's Dust-resonant A-Bombs (even if the theorists had been sentenced by Canon-Law drumheads in the 80s), Italian alchemists, Gnostic Christian angelology (the Random House site gets everything from The Dictionary of Angels), zombification, shamanism, Ugric nature-witches, and an astro-Cabbalistic mechanical dark-matter memory theater whose emblems read you back.



All these forces are shown to send an a-Bomb into a different universe through quantum entanglement, chase you across Russia in a Calabi-Yau Merkabah, raise a Nigerian-Cossack combined force of walking dead, control lightning and bird flocks to destroy three blimps in one night, let one prophesy and talk with trees and weasels and live for a thousand years, and know anything anywhere anytime. It all sounds like a world where Atlantis not only never sank, but started training special ops for the Swiss Guard! Again, this isn't Pullman throwing in the kitchen sink, but a good picture of the various creatures, peoples, magics, sciences, and marvels discovered or thought possible by the Baroque [I also detect resonances with Crowley's Ægypt, CS Lewis's Discarded Image, Eco, and Borges].



HDM also shows a curiously antique fear of plotting Papists, and his work's highly derivative of one of his main sources, Kingsley Amis's The Alteration. But despite overtly signing on to the Draper-White myth of a Church quashing joy, science, curiosity, "control, destroy, obliterate every good feeling"--what Pullman actually fears is heartless automatism. The worst result of Lyra's failure is all existence, every timeline in the multiverse, turning into deterministic "interlocking machines, blind and empty of thought, feeling, life." Now, I've heard people blame Catholicism for creationism, Lincoln's assassination, both world wars, Stalin and Hitler, lack of Mars colonies, and the bubonic plague, but never abolishing the ability to think itself.



In fact, Magisterium and state combined are unable to suppress even the Gyptian Traveller/Sea Beggar hybrids in industrialized, modernized, and conformist Brytain. This world's mightiest military Muscovy has heathen Tartars, shamans, nature-worshiping literal Witches, and violent, Authorityless talking polar bear sellclaws underfoot. In London epicenes with same-sex dæmons walk in broad daylight and the regime can't keep its own kids from being kidnapped as odalisques and dancing boys in the Muslim world. The Magisterium in fact never burned any witches and the very suggestion floors this world's witches with its unthinkability. There don't seem to have been any European wars [Amis], and napalm is unheard-of in New Denmark. Our world may give nuns the right to leave the cloister over eating marzipan and kissing Italians (though not vice-versa)--but all we get in our reality is McWorld battling the hyper-Salafists, and maybe the I Ching.



[the following is mostly my own invention; countries with an asterisk * aren't canonical]


Americas New France reaches as far as Manitoba, which was the site of two Franco-Skræling Métis Risings. Being far from Paris, Rome, and Geneva, its natural theologians are freer in pursuing the nature of physical matter. New Denmark is a highly confederated republic that united in 1761 and won Michigan, Illinois, and the trans-Mississippi from France in 1848 (precipitating a crisis in Europe). Independent of all European powers but friends to everyone, it's become an economic powerhouse by specializing in transshipment, finance, and "pure" natural-theological research, rivaling Moscow, Constantinople, and (almost, at least according to Lyra) Oxford. It provides significant theological freedom, with Hussites, Lollards, Doukhobors, and Waldensians pouring into the Great Plains [Amis]. They've also invented the "moving picture," where you draw on cellulose acetate and re-project it (though Lyra's never seen one). [Alternatively New Denmark proper stops at the Mississippi, New France continues down to NOLA, and California's Castilian.]

States and cities:

Charlotania (Ga., S.C.): Chicora, Cofitachequi, Little Egypt, New Atlantis [Savannah], Ocute, St Helena. Aristocratic, though the sachems and cassiques seem to always be of Muscogee blood. [TTL the Cherokee might not have even arrived without the post-smallpox+slaving shakeup of the US east of the Mississippi.]

Chesapeake (Va.): Henrico was made the capital 1644-46 after Chesapeake Puritans burned the Ignatian mission at St Mary’s, ending the utopian project there and setting off the (Svedish-backed) Plundering Time. A good planter or burgess is still expected to lose his virginity to the chambermaid by his 14th birthday, wipe out the local wildlife, and threaten to duel any priest whose sermons point out such debauchery.

Dakota Territory (plus Mont.): Rapid City, St Paul

East Florida: Anhaica, St Augustine. The Calusa and Timucua haven't consolidated into the Seminole, but their casta-style ethnic division remains stronger than in the northern states.

la Louisiane: Istrouma, Nouvelle-Orléans  Mackinac Country (Mich.): Pontchartrain [Detroit]  Miami Country (Ind.)  Missouri Territory (plus Kans.): Auralia [Denver], Kansai City, St Louis  New England: New Ipswich [Salem--the Puritans are still East Angles], New London (founded by alchemists), Patuxet [Plymouth]. Grim, congregationalist, and literate.  New Jutland (N.C.--TTL Danes likened the Outer Banks to Vendsyssel): New Bern, Raleigh, Roanoke. Catawba-heavy.  New Zealand (N.Y.): New Hague [instead of New Amsterdam] remained Hollands 1689; home of the Committee for the Theological Investigation of Claims of Wonders

Ohio: Carlemanni [Cincinnati (named for the elite organization based on the Emperor TTL rather than OTL's farmer-general)], Cleves [Cleveland], Pittsylvania [Pittsburgh]. Shawnee-heavy.

Osage Country (Ill.): Badeauton [Cahokia], Chécagou

Ouachita Territory (Ark., Okla.): Pacaha

Pawnee Territory (Ia., Neb.): Des Moines

Sylvania (Penn.): Baltimore, Concordia [Philadelphia]. The colony was established as an open-air dump for Quakers, Pietists, Anabaptists, and Rosicrucians, ironically making the New Dane capital this world's philosophical and natural-theological dynamo. They also popularized the handshake, which is indeed one of the confederation's national symbols.

Tenesy: Mabila, Rosetta [Memphis, keeping with the IRL Egyptian theme]

Ultrasylvania (Ky.)

Vandalia (Appalachians): Olamico, St John Joara, Toqua

Winnebago (Minn., Wis.): Charlotte [Milwaukee]. The Siouan mound-builders remained dominant.

West Florida: Mobile, Natchez

The Republic of Texas is confirmed as a country (and fits the feel of the TL), so I created a New Albyon* [I'm guessing TTL wanted to block New Denmark from being a continental power after it took Louisiana so I guess Geneva, Madrid, and London encouraged enduring buffer states in North America] and California* a priest-run backwater where Native refugees of the Forty-Niners fled to, causing the Friars' War 1912 between Skrælings associated with the Franciscans vs. those backing the bishops. Italian and Brytish immigrants to the towns that grew around the missions bring a lot of fun cults.
Castile's Empire of M'é'jico, or Nueva Espa'ñ'a, is home to the College of the Holy Cross of Tlatelolco which specializes in training the noble sons of those families who survived the cocoliztli. Castile stayed Habsburg 1714, so the Bourbons didn't annoy the colonies: the first king to visit Chapultepec Palace was in 1911. The local militia handles revolts caused by commercialization and industrialization. The Castilian Empire has in fact been "Americanized," Chile legally as much part of Castile as Andalusia or Asturias. 'Vene'ç'uela* is a colony of Catalonia, which has a protectorate over the Aboriginal kingdoms of Bacat'à* and Popaian* to the southwest and Roraima (or Orinoquia)* to the south.
The Empire of Brasil is sometimes called High Brasil, in contrast with Hollands Surinam* (with its particularly nauseating loup-garou). Brasilian and Antilian slaves are no less brutalized as in IRL. I made the Empire of Peru still under the Sapa Inka but Christianized (the Emperors don't need to ask any Pope for dispensation to marry their own sister any more). It's wildly rich from selling Putuqsi's silver to China, Castile, and Germany, giving us a worldwide silver ThalerChiquitos* and Paraguay* are Reductions under the Javierites' direct rule, so they're big, whip-happy maté plantations but the Guaraní have beaten back every Iberian attempt to "liberate" them from direct rule by priests. La Plata* and Chile* are settled by Castilians, Brytish, and Italians, and home to the Americas' most famous Cardinals, Borges and Bergoglio. Terra do Fogo, or Magallanica is an island at the southern tip of Patagonia. Oxford has Van Tieren's Land separate from Baffin Island and moreover it's in "atlas order" [ever since Ortelius maps run from Iceland to Tierra del Fuego] after America and Patagonia, so I guess it's either the Antarctic Peninsula (or, from the movie map, another Arctic island). Terra Antarctica is surrounded by the Isles of St Maclovius (France), Sandwich Land (Brytain), and the Desolation Islands (Denmark)* often used as Magisterial dumping grounds for heretics, and the Church has several international stations around the Unknown Continent. The people of Van Diemen's Land and the Chatham Islands have taken to a largely-seafaring life and are expanding mines around the Ross Sea and turning up odd things.

Europe The Kingdom of Brytain comprises the Kingdoms of of Eireland, England, Mann, and Scotland and the Princedom of Wales; Arthur Tudor produces an heir TTL [Amis], leading to King Alfred IV. Scandinavia of course comprises NorrowaySveden, and independent Lapland (again we have kingdoms' names left untranslated; Trollesund is apparently supposed to be Bodø, or based on it, though Tromsø's bigger and matches this very bad map). I added Finnland or Suomy* because even though the coordinates for Novorossisk in North are for Finland it was a misprint in Pullman's source that he copied in its entirety, causing the discrepancy. Denmark includes the Duchies of Holstein, Scania*, and Schleswig; in the Atlantic it rules Estotiland*, the Færøerne, Fireland, Frisland* [super-Rockall], and Grœnland. Holland, or the United Low Countries, has acquired more of Friesland (with its famous wooden planetarium); I left Utrecht a prince-bishopric (though the commercial oligarchs electing the Stadhouder may not have liked so "feudal" an inclusion).
The Continent's #1 or #2 power is constitutional-monarchical Bourbon' France': its Benedictines, Carthusians, Cistercians, and Trappists were key to both France's industrialization and in providing the libations that'd make factory work bearable for former peasants. Less-constitutional monarchies are Habsburg Castile and Aviz Portugal. The CataloniaForal Republic lost Valencia and the Balears to Castile in 1580, and regained them in the confusion of 1815. Navarre's fuero expanded into today's Basque Republic.
The German Electorates or Holy Roman Empire's emperors are elected by Austria, Bavaria, Bohemia, Brandenburg-Prussia, Valois Lower Burgundy, Hannover, Mecklenburg-Hither Pomerania, and Saxony, the Prince-Archbishoprics of Bremen, Cologne, Trier, Liège, Salzburg, and Mainz, and the Electoral Palatinate (with the Rosicrucian Hortus Palatinus and Fate-Books still drawing visitors). Pavel Khunrath, who had Jost Bürgi manufacture the alethiometer, was an adherent of Rudolf II and burned at the stake in Prague by the Winter King Friedrich IV to show the occultists they worked for him now. Germany's executive capital tends to bounce around depending on which dynasty's elected Emperor--Prague, Berlin, Wien.
Italy has the Duchies of Modena*, Mantua*, Milan*, Parma*, Piacenza*, and Savoy* and the Republics of Tuscany*Ferrara*Genoa*, Lucca*, and Venice (still resembling Pullman's source, Brian Aldiss's Malacia Tapestry--perhaps even with Ancestral hunts and astrological "fortune bonds" being gamed by precogs), and the Kingdom of Naples, Sardinia, and Sicily (whose Joachimites are unique for conducting experiments in "experimental history").
The States of the Church comprise the old Papal States, Venaissin, and the canton of Vaud. Rome has the judiciary Vatican Council and the once-dominant College of Bishops, whereas the 12-man Consistorial Court of Discipline commands the Helvetic Guard and rules almost the Christian world. The leader of each significant Magisterial agency in Rome is a Cardinal Palatine ex officio, though Geneva prefers to let Rome keep the empty pomp and titlesm, the intrigue and factional fighting while they do the real governing. The States are formally protected by Florence (since Savonarola stormed Rome and was acclaimed Pope), Muscovy, Savoy, Germany, and the Swiss League*.
The Hungarian Empire (including a Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia) is the main bulwark against the Turk, protecting the Princedoms of Moldavia*TransylvaniaWallachia* and the Székely Magyar Republic. It's the source of coveted Tokay wine (seriously, even the cheap stuff will floor you). Oxford has "the Baltic States" so I have Livonia* or the Terra Mariana. Svalbard is the largest kingdom of the ice-going panserbj'ø'rne.

Witches The Bridge to the Stars site has an official map here. Witch-domains expand with the flowering of plants and contract with migrations; a fight between Leutara and Kamäinen was ended "when a cloud of midges drifted east over the coal-moss beds." We know Witches cover Siberia and I'd say they go out through the Pripet until the woods get too thin.  Lake Enara, Serafina Pekkala  Lake Keitele, Sara Leino (lilac)  Lake Ladoga, Paula Pyhäjäro  Lake Lubana, Ruta Skadi (pea-green)  Miekojärvi, Katya Sirkka (forest green); blood feud against Tishozero  "Nania"? Julia Ojalami (fuchsia)  Tishozero, Reina Miti; blood feud against Mickojärvi  Umoleso, Tanja Leutara (violet)  Lake Visha, Juta Kamäinen

Russia

Muscovy's many "Tartars" (Alans, Balkars, Cheremiss, Circassians, Dargins, Finns, Iazones, Kalmyks, Karachays, Karelians, Kumyks, Laks, Letts, Lezgians, Mordvins, Nakhs, Nogais, Tabasarans, and Tavastians) ensure that the Empire is under tenuous control at best and often looming invasion at worst, giving Moscow the strongest and best-equipped army in the world, especially its elite Imperial Guard. Despite (or because?) the iron grip of its regime it's made great strides in natural theology, emphasizing fields that Europe or New Denmark doesn't like rocketry, informatics, nanometallurgy, and epigenetics. Even their dirigible tactics would shred the armada of any rival (other than Cathay): the Imperial Guard and its allied Witches conduct lengthy combined-arms drills over the taiga, some lasting for months. If a Guardsman dies, that's a true tragedy to the State and the senior Commissar will personally visit his wife and/or mother.

The duchies (Belozersk, the Don, Kiev, Nizhny Novgorod, Smolensk, Tver, Vladimir-Suzdal, Yaroslavl) and princedoms (Astrakhan, Azerbaijan, Crimea, Kharkov, Moscow, Novgorod, Pskov, Ryazan, Tiflis, and Yelizavetpol) are depcited here in a lighter color: these are autonomous semi-hereditary realms (the Romanov Emperor--Ivan VI's heir Alexis III) meddles in which son or nephew in the dynasty the local Assembly of Nobles "chooses").

There's doukhobors and skoptsy a-plenty, given the Magisterium's anti-wiener policies [frankly having Will meet a vegetarian nudist castrato would be much more shocking than having a priest give him vodka and rant about witches stealing his seed--but Spyglass is so Middle-Englander that one's as scary as the other I guess!]. [Just spitballing, but I'd guess Muscovy failed to expand its frontage past St Petersburg (Oxford's 1812 "Baltic Wars") and napalmed Corea in treacherous alliance with Cathay in the 1950s-70s (to make a TTL Vietnam?).]

Western Tartary is partially within Muscovy, and extends over the Urals: it's a recruiting ground for the Imperial Guard among its "martial races"--Ostyaks, Samoyeds, and Voguls.
The Khan of Kazan* is de facto chosen by the Muscovite Emperor: he gives Muscovites full rights of movement and residence among the Bashkirs, Bolgars, Chuvash, Komi, Samoyeds, Tartars, and Votyaks.
The Khanate of Sibir* is particularly favored by Cossack settlers--and Muscovy's sharashkas where heretical Scholars are sent. I have the panserbj'ø'rne in Amber Spyglass settling in the Altays (since Lake Baikal has seals and sea access via the Irtysh), and not the Himalayas or Kunlun Shan.
The rest of Siberia is heavily settled and garrisoned by Muscovy at Irkutsk and Krasnoyarsk, but has troublesome Buryats, Dolgans, Evenks, Evens, Koryaks, Oirats, Yakuts, and Yukaghirs.
The Pashalik of the Kazakhs (or Turkestan) includes the Kyrgyz, Naimans, Uzbegs, and Turkomans. Given its ruler's title (and its location) it'd be Persianized, maybe maintained as a universal buffer by Moscow and Tehran.

Asia Mehmed IX is the Sultan-Caliph, Padishah and Khagan, Commander of the Faithful and Successor of the Prophet of the Lord of All, Guardian of the Three Holy Sanctuaries, Emperor of Rome and Protector of Orthodoxy. The 'Ottoman Empire's vassals are the Deylik of Algiers*, the Sultanate of Æ'gypt, the Pashalik of the Fezzan'*, and the Beylik of Tunis'*SerbiaBulgaria, and Greece aren't quite puppet states, but must remain neutral buffer states. Amis has it as his TL's USSR-equivalent so it's divided into Albanian, Pontic, Adjarian, Armenian, Kurdish, Assyrian, Libyan, Dobrujan, Bosnian, Syrian, Mesopotamian, Rumelian, Anatolian, Palestinian, Hejazi, Lebanese, Druze autonomous provinces/districts. Like Protestantism TTL, Shiism got reincorporated/subsumed by Nader Shah (sovereigns love anything that supplies them with warrior-monks!). The Sultans present themselves as emperors of Christians as much as St. Petersburg, London, Prague, etc.: they send clever agitprop, plant stories, chat up pious pilgrims and decadent tourists of the Mideast. The Porte is also an atomic and ordinator superpower: this superpower's hidden strengths include the Cabbala, the Baetylus, the Sabians, and any ol' jinn they can seize on the sands.
[Oxford has Brytish officers in the Hindu Kush, so India's at least partially colonial, and unable to stop toffs from fishing in Afghanistan. India's also a British viceroyalty in Amis--but so's all Indochina!] Cathay, Corea, and Nippon are moderately industrialized: Confucianism and the I Ching inspired the Church and Scholars, and in turn the Javierites provided plenty of European geographical, astronomical, and military expertise to the Manchu and Han dynasties that seized Peking. The Ezo Republic* and the Kingdom of Luchu* were Muscovy's targets of influence when it set the three East Asian powers against each other. The eastern Tartars--Buryats, Kalmyk, Khalkha, and Oirats--are only nominally subject to Cathay and federated at Urga. The Ignatians run the international ports at Macau and Dejima.
The Austral Empire has suborned Maori New Holland and "protects" the islands of the Peaceable Ocean. Only Owyhee* has escaped its reach. Auster proper was settled by Brytish, Cathayans, Dutch, Javans, and Nipponese atop the black, russet-haired Autochthons. I myself imagine it to be full of Austro-Bavarian Baroque works, like at AdmontSt. GallSt. Florian, or Melk.

Africa West Africa has Portuguese Guinea and the Green Cape, French St.-Louis, Muscovite Ft. AndreyFuta Jalon'* (west) and Futa Toro'* (north), and the Pepper and Ivory Coasts. The Empire of Benin, or the Empire of the Niger, is resisting Christianity with its hated "Separated" troops and its profits from slaving; it's also famed for its bronzes.
The Sahara has several oases benefiting from trade with the Empire of Fez and Morocco: Adrar, Agadez, Awdaghost, Bilma, Figuig, Laghouat, the Mzab, Tadmekka, Taghaza, Tawdani, Touggourt, Wadan, Walata, and Wargla. 'Yemen'* dominates the Red Sea entrance and wants Omani Soqotra to seize the frankincense trade.

flags here and here; religion map here

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we knows there's Copts so I had them rule the eastern Sahelian states and Abyssinia, and there's more in TTL Egypt; there's still Sabians in Carrhae, and Maniots, and Mandaeans and Yazidis in Mesopotamia and Babylonia [assuming those are independent]

Pullman says the Ottoman Empire exists TTL and Islam's the focus of the cold war in Amis's Alteration, but there's no way TBoD is gonna touch Islam with a 10-foot pole: I have it that there's no Shiism as a separate school (butterflying the Safavids) and absorbing a lot of Zoroastrianism

blue's Jewish, with heavy emigration "encouraged" to New Denmark

the Sinosphere is the usual mix of Chinese traditional religion, Daoism, Korean shamanism, Shinto, and Buddhism, they're not fundamentalist Buddhist (though they're as eeeeevil and quasi-scientific as anyone else: Pullman doubtless hews to the Westernized fantasy of Buddhism as a way to hang up your hang-ups, starting with selfhood); it may also have survived in India

basically the problem I have with Pullman isn't his tendency to throw around careless blood libels (imagine if he wrote a world where Jews had a network of fanatic assassins trying to kill a 12-year-old and send her head back to Jerusalem), but the absence of any sense of evil--there's no depth to it: it's not even a strawman--I'm not chilled by the worldview of Geneva's Consistory, since the motives for nearly destroying the multiverse are barely touched upon


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A different interpretation of the world

Modern World Golden Compass
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