Cherry Wilder had a relatively short career as fantasy writers go. Her first novel was The Luck of Brin’s Five (1977), which won the 1978 Ditmar Award for Best Australian Science Fiction Novel, and was the first novel in The Torin Trilogy. She produced two other series, The Rulers of Hylor (four novels, published between 1984 and 2004) and two novels in the Rhomary Land series (in 1986 and 1996), several short stores, and that was it. She died in 2002.
Still, she is very fondly remembered as one of the shining lights of 80s fantasy. Although The Torin Trilogy has all the trappings of fantasy — including sorcerers, far-flung kingdoms, and mystical powers — at heart it’s actually science fiction. It’s the tale of Scott Gale, a space traveler from Earth who finds himself shipwrecked on the world of Torin, where he’s accepted as a family member by Brin’s Five. Before long he finds himself embroiled in a desperate battle against the feared man who rules much of the land, Strangler Tiath Pentroy.
“Cherry Wilder” was the pseudonym of Cherry Barbara Grimm, a New Zealand writer. Most of her books appeared in hardcover from Argo Book / Atheneum first, and only later (or not at all) as US paperbacks. The Luck of Brin’s Five was published in paperback by Pocket Books in October 1979 (above left); the cover artist is uncredited. The Nearest Fire, the second in the series, followed in hardcover in March 1980; it was reprinted in paperback in July 1982 by Pocket’s Timescape imprint, with a cover by Carl Lundgren (above middle).
The final novel, The Tapestry Warriors, was published in hardcover by Atheneum in March 1983, with a cover by Lino Saffioti; it has never appeared in the US in paperback, and is the hardest volume in the series to track down.
Although she never returned to the world of Torin in her novels after the last book appeared, Cherry Wilder did write several short stories set there, including “The Dancing Floor” (1998), which appeared in Jack Dann and Janeen Webb’s anthology of Australian SF and Fantasy, Dreaming Down-Under.
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