Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997)
Sherman, Delia

Working name of US writer Cordelia Sherman (1951-    ), born in Japan but resident in the USA since childhood. She first appeared in print with "The Maid on the Shore" (F&SF 1987). Her first novel, Through a Brazen Mirror (1989), retells the traditional ballad "Famous Flower of Serving Men". When the sorceress mother of Fair Elinor has her husband and child murdered, Elinor dons Gender Disguise and embarks on a career that results in her (him) becoming the king's chamberlain. The novel's artful multiplicity of style, the use of the ballad as a template and the emphasis on the individual's finding her/his place in the world unaided, as well as an ending which upsets every readerly expectation make the work a type-specimen of Fantasy of Manners. It earned DS a nomination for the John W Campbell Memorial Award.

The Porcelain Dove (1993), which won DS the Mythopoeic Award, is unusually set in 18th-century France, with a smooth, unified and highly sophisticated style to match. A Quest for the eponymous object lifts a Curse and thereby creates a time Polder where the characters are thereafter untouched by the outside world. But this is almost a subplot to the tale of a poor girl who becomes maid to an aristocratic wife and then part of the higher society; it is also a lesbian love story. DS clearly has more quietly subversive stories to tell. [DK]

Cordelia Sherman

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This entry is taken from the Encyclopedia of Fantasy (1997) edited by John Clute and John Grant. It is provided as a reference and resource for users of the SF Encyclopedia, but apart from possible small corrections has not been updated.