The Czech Republic, severed from its old Slovak half, sits in apparent landlocked contentment, inside the European Union but outside the troubled Euro Zone, set into the new Continental mosaic like one of the small sturdy paving stones, just a few inches square, that form the sidewalks under the visitor's ambling feet.
Before you rip off three feet of toilet paper, consider that each year 500,000 acres of virgin boreal forest in northern Alberta and Ontario are being clear-cut to make the stuff. These forests are home to some 500 First Nation communities, as well as caribou and bears, moose and wolves, and, in the summertime, billions of songbirds.
I think it's also safe to say genre TV and movies were a big influence - the first stories I ever tried to write were Godzilla fan fiction when I was in elementary school, complete with elaborate maps of Monster Island made with multiple sheets of typing paper and nearly six feet wide. I kind of wish I still had those.