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I remember reading this as a short story.

Prisoners where entombed in a mountain. Inside the mountain was a huge horizontal wheel, and the prisoners' cells where like teeth or cogs at the edge of the huge wheel. The prisoners were all forced to pull on a huge chain (or turn some kind of crank or something) to slowly move the wheel. A few holes to the outside of the mountain gave the cells access to the outside as the cell moved into position. So the prisoners had to literally work to their freedom. [Food was provided via much smaller holes that guards would put into the cells.]

It was kind of an odd story. I am not sure I have all the details right, but this should be enough for someone familiar with the story.

marked as duplicate by Robert Columbia, Community Jul 23 '18 at 15:31

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    For ID questions can you include the [story-identification] tag and the genre tags should be used for questions about the genre only. – TheLethalCarrot Jul 23 '18 at 13:36

This is part of Brian W. Aldiss's Helliconia Winter, part of his Helliconia trilogy.

Set during late autumn in the northern continent, Sibornal. The book's protagonist, Luterin Shokerandit, is the son of the Keeper of the Wheel of Kharnabar, located above the far north of Helliconia. The Wheel is an extraordinary revolving monastery/prison built into a ring-shaped tunnel with a single entrance and exit, powered entirely by the efforts of the prisoners pulling it along by means of chains set into the outer wall. Once a prisoner enters a cell of the Wheel, it is impossible for him to leave until its full ten-year rotation has passed.

The same prison was also addressed in Aldiss's "Manuscript Found in a Police State".

  • I think it was a short story. But I think Aldiss wrote it and maybe incorporated into his trilogy. – Jiminion Jul 23 '18 at 13:54
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    Similar prison type thing was in one of the John Carter of Mars books – ivanivan Jul 23 '18 at 13:58
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    The short story was written in 1972, the trilogy in the early 80's. Some more info: boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/archive/index.php/t-69279.html – Jiminion Jul 23 '18 at 15:30
  • @ivanivan That definitely predates 1972. – Jiminion Jul 23 '18 at 16:29

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