The Turning Wheel

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"The Turning Wheel" is an 8,400[1] word science fiction novelette by Philip K. Dick. It was published in Science Fiction Stories No. 2, 1954.[2]


If, after a great struggle, the East were to prevail over the world, what sort of civilization would be imposed by the victors? Would it be an oriental version of the societies we know -- or might the great old culture be superimposed upon what was left of western technology? -- Introduction from Science Fiction Stories No. 2, 1954, p. 69

The story is set in a post-apocalyptic future where global civilization is governed by a hierarchical, religious society centered on belief in karmic based reincarnation metaphorically viewed as moving forward or backward on a turning wheel.

The society presented is class driven, apparently with Caucasians ("Caucs") at the bottom, and Asians and Native Americans at the top. Above all is the god/messiah, the Bard "Elron Hu" (that is to say, "Elron Hu, Bard"), whose spiritual plan involves one becoming "clear" - an obvious jab at L. Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, the self-help book that had been released a few years before.


This was the second of two digest size issues published by Columbia Publishing under this title to test the market for magazines in digest size.[3] Confusingly, both Science Fiction Stories No. 2, 1954[4] and Science Fiction Quarterly, August 1954[5] were copyrighted by the publisher as "Science fiction quarterly, Aug. 1954" under Registration Number B00000473931.[6]

Inside front cover has profiles of Algis Budrys, Theodore R. Cogswell, Philip K. Dick and Milton Lesser (best known by pen name, Steven Marlowe) who were all still new authors at the time. Contents are In Human Hands by Algis Budrys, Peace Agent by M.C. Pease, The Turning Wheel by Philip K. Dick, To See Ourselves by Robert F. Young, Give Away by Milton Lesser, And What Remains? by Winston K. Marks, Barrier by Theodore R. Cogswell and Husbands, Care and Feeding of by Mack Reynolds.
Inside Front Cover and Table Of Contents, Science Fiction Stories No. 2, 1954. Verifies publication of "The Turning Wheel" by Philip K. Dick in this issue of this magazine. Illustrates publication of stories by many notable science fiction authors in context of publishing era and presentation to readers of era.

Copyright protection for Science Fiction Stories, No 2, 1954 (as Science fiction quarterly, Aug. 1954) and its contents was created under Registration Number B00000473931.[7][8] "The Turning Wheel" is in the public domain in the United States because it was published in the United States between January 1, 1950 and December 31, 1963 but copyright was not renewed with the US Copyright Office within a year period beginning on December 31 of the 27th year of the copyright and running through December 31 of the following year. When renewal registration was not made within the statutory time limit copyright expired at the end of its first term and protection was lost permanently.[9] After the author's death, "The Turning Wheel" was incorrectly included in renewal Registration Number RE0000190631 (1983-11-22) War veteran, and other contributions by Philip K. Dick, as "(In Science fiction stories, May 1955) The Turning wheel. Pub. 1955-03-14; B00000531302"[10][11][12]


  1. ^ Levack, Daniel (1981). PKD: A Philip K. Dick Bibliography, Underwood/Miller, p. 129 ISBN 0-934438-33-1
  2. ^ Rickman, Gregg (1989), To The High Castle: Philip K. Dick: A Life 1928-1963, Long Beach, Ca.: Fragments West/The Valentine Press, p.389 ISBN 0-916063-24-0
  3. ^
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  7. ^ Direct link to Registration Number B00000473931.
  8. ^ A direct link to the search result page or search page may cause an immediate Time Out. If that is a problem use this link to Copyright Office home page then follow links and search Copyright Catalog Search for B00000473931 by Registration Number.
  9. ^ See p.2
  10. ^ Direct link to Registration Number RE0000190631.
  11. ^ A direct link to the search result page or search page may cause an immediate Time Out. If that is a problem use this link to Copyright Office home page then follow links and search Copyright Catalog for story by title or RE0000190631 by Registration Number.
  12. ^ Link to Philip K. Dick bibliographic entry on isfdb.