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I look at a lot of landscape pictures online, mostly to get a feel for the type of worlds I create for my stories. But every time I see a picture of some foreign ecosystem -- whether it's a rainforest or a tundra, a coniferous forest or an arid desert -- I think, "I wish I lived there. I'd be happy there, I bet. Things would be different." I guess the grass really is greener on the other side of the fence, as they say.

I've never really considered myself one of those people who obsess over nature, who feel the urge to bask in the sun or glory in the flower, but it's only pictures of the earth that do this to me, not pictures of fancy cities or gorgeous houses. As odd as it seems, I do think the world would be a better place if we were simpler, less "civilized," more in tune with the planet. I'm not about to give up my technological amenities and go backpacking across the boreal forest, but there is something alluring about the idea. I mean, I hear that so much of the planet is still uncultivated, still wild, and it seems so alien to me. I don't even live in a big city, in a metropolis, but still... do you have any idea when the last time I saw a real forest was? That's a serious question, not a rhetorical one, because I have no idea what the answer is.

I think perhaps this is why I default to fantasy stories. Because I can set them in different civilizations that are still in touch with nature. The culture I've created for Eternity in an Hour is, without intending it to be, my idea of paradise: a society that lives and lets live, that has the amenities of technology without having de-earthed the earth in the process. They live in a house made from a tree, but it has running water and artificial light, for instance. Sometimes I wonder how different my life would be, how different I would be, if I picked up and moved to a little cabin somewhere deep in the woods, with Internet access and electricity but without all the zombie emptiness that "civilization" has dropped on us.

Maybe I should go read Thoreau...