I have a friend (stop laughing, it’s true) who shall remain nameless for reasons that will become apparent as we proceed.

There are a lot of places in the world that I’ve not yet been fortunate to visit. One of them is Turkey. On the off chance you aren’t 100% sure exactly where Turkey is, I found a jolly useful depiction created by someone called The Emirr on the Wikipedia page for Turkey.

Turkey front and center (Click image to see a larger version — Source: The Emirr/Wikipedia)

Turkey is one of those countries that is positively oozing with history. One of the world’s earliest permanently settled regions, it was home to many important Neolythic (Stone Age) sites and was inhabited by a variety of ancient civilizations.

Just glancing at the map shows you why Turkey was so important because it’s in the middle of wherever ancient peoples wanted to go. Anyone heading north out of Egypt, south out of Russia, east out of Greece, or west out of Persia would soon find themselves ambling around Turkey.

With the Black Sea to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south, there’s no shortage of seafood on the menu. Famously known for its kebabs, köfte (meatballs), and baklava (layered pastry filled with nuts and covered in syrup), Turkish cuisine embraces influences from Eastern Europe, the Middle East, the Mediterranean, and Central Asia (I’m drooling just thinking about it).

Sad to relate, there’s a downside (isn’t there always). My aforementioned friend is a Turkish engineer with a special interest in drones and autonomous robots. We met via the internet based on some column I’d written (I no longer recall which of my writings it was) and we’ve communicated on myriad technical topics since. We also share a love of science fiction tales told in books or on film.

The thing is that I have a LOT of science fiction books in my collection. In fact, due to the whims of fate, I’ve ended up with multiple copies of some titles. Thus it was that I gathered six paperback books to send to my chum. I know you are going to wonder which ones, so I’ll put you out of your misery:

  • The Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein
  • Way Station by Clifford D. Simak
  • The End of Eternity by Isaac Asimov
  • Tunnel in the Sky by Robert Heinlein
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • Songs From the Stars by Norman Spinrad

I know, they are all classics, aren’t they? I was planning on simply dropping these little beauties in the post. However, when I asked my friend for his shipping address, he informed me that he couldn’t afford to accept my gift. It seems that anything coming from outside the country will attract unwanted attention from uncivil members of the Turkish civil service, which is rife with bureaucratic corruption. The bottom line is that he couldn’t afford to pay the necessary bribes, even though these are old, tired paperbacks that have obviously seen better days (much like me, now I come to think about it).

So… what I was thinking was that if you live in a country that is not infected by a similar bureaucratic malaise, and if you are planning on visiting Turkey in the not-so-distant future, then I could ship the books to you (along with wrapping paper and money for stamps), and you could drop them in the local Turkish post when you get there.

It’s just a thought but it’s not a bad one. I can only imagine my friend’s joy when he casts his orbs over these books for the first time. So, what say you?