The Turning Wheel
is a 1954 science fiction
short story by Philip K. Dick
The story set in a future when Western civilization has given way to a society based on the oriental
way of life (an idea which would have seemed much more radical in the 50s than it does today). The central image of the turning wheel calls to mind the Wheel of Fortune
from the Tarot pack, the Buddhist Bhavacakra
, or the Feng Shui
cycle of the elements. In all three cases, the wheel is driven by animals or mythical creatures.
These ideas bear a close relationship to the Ba Gua of the I Ching, which was important to Dick throughout his life and features heavily in his later book, The Man in the High Castle.
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.