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.
Author GERALD J. RUBIO Rev: KAREN GRANDY