Without further ado: Gail Carriger on the illogic of history.
Explaining History Backwards
I'm an archaeologist and I'm constantly distressed by history. This is, as you may well imagine, professionally terribly embarrassing, but the logic of history all-too-often defeats me. (Of course, this is because history isn't logical.) One has only to look at the British Empire. I mean really, how did they manage it – one tiny island taking over the world (as Eddie Izzard has it) through the cunning use of flags?
My initial theory was that the British were on the hunt for better cuisine and simply occupied other countries as an afterthought. This is rather close to my theory on the Vikings. Why all that raping, pillaging, and slicing people open from the back to eat out their hearts? Clearly, the Vikings were suffering from a bad case of nose envy. Ever visited a Scandinavian country? Big tall strapping blonds - teeny-tiny noses. There they were and they just got jealous. "Look at all those other European countries, Urk! Better weather AND better noses. Get 'em!" Plus all they had to drink was mead, a terribly girly drink for big strapping blonds with horned helmets. "Better weather, better noses, AND ale!"
The thing is, as I poodle about through my daily job I constantly encounter some new form of oddball historical behavior. Recently I visited Machu Picchu, an enormous ritual center perching atop a mountain no sane person would ever want to climb. I'm holding forth that it's a Peruvian attempt to compensate for certain deficiencies in the stature arena. And before you slag me off for bias, many of my closest friends are short. And I keep threatening to take them to Peru to go shopping.
Now, back to England. It seems to me that another perfectly valid explanation for the success of the British Empire is that Queen Victoria had vampires (with all their years of knowledge) helping her strategize, and werewolves fighting in her armies, while the other European countries didn't. At which point it became patently obvious that any such entirely absurd idea would have to become a book. After all, I couldn't very well write about the Viking nose issue, now could I?