Hughes, Monica

Monica Hughes, née Ince, author (b at Liverpool, Eng 3 November 1925, d at Edmonton 7 March 2003). Monica Hughes spent her childhood in Cairo, London, and Edinburgh. Her Math studies at the University of Edinburgh were interrupted by World War II, when she joined the Women's Royal Naval Service. When she returned to university after the war, she studied Meteorology. She then travelled and lived in Africa, before immigrating to Canada in 1952. Hughes began writing fiction before moving to Canada, but did not publish her first book until 1974. She went on to publish more than 30 novels and to win nearly every major Canadian award for young-adult fiction. Monica Hughes was considered Canada's preeminent writer of science fiction for young adults.

Monica Hughes's central characters are psychologically credible adolescents struggling towards maturity. Most of her works are nominally classed as SCIENCE FICTION, though Hughes's plots center on contemporary dilemmas. For example, Crisis on Conshelf Ten (1975) and Earthdark (1977) focus on feeding an overpopulated world, and Devil on My Back (1984) concerns the consequences of overdependence on technology. Beyond the Dark River (1979) and Ring-rise, Ring-set (1982) incorporate Canadian Native, Inuit and Hutterite cultures. Hunter in the Dark (1982), for which she won a Canada Council Children's Literature Award, examines a 16-year old athlete struggling to come to terms with his mortality on a solitary hunting expedition, during a period of remission from a possibly fatal disease. In Hughes's final published work, The Maze (2002), the young female protagonist must rescue herself and two tormenting bullies from the dangerous maze into which they have all been magically transported.

Hughes's best known work is the Isis trilogy, which tracks the development of a colony of Earthlings on a planet that circles the star Ra in the Milky Way Galaxy. Despite its exotic setting, the trilogy deals with socially relevant issues such as racism, religious beliefs, political conservatism, taboos, and technology. The second book in the series, The Guardian of Isis, won the 1982 Canada Council Children's Literature Award. Keeper of the Isis Light, the first book in the series, won the Phoenix Award in 2000, 20 years after its original publication.

Monica Hughes was a Member of the Order of Canada and a recipient of the Queen's Golden Jubilee Medal.