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Monica Hughes (1) (1925–2003)

Author of Invitation to the Game

For other authors named Monica Hughes, see the disambiguation page.

39+ Works 2,538 Members 56 Reviews 7 Favorited

About the Author

Monica Hughes was born in Liverpool, England on November 3, 1925. Before joining the Women's Royal Naval Service, she lived in Egypt as a child and went to school in Scotland. During World War II, she worked on breaking German codes. In 1952, she immigrated to Edmonton, Alberta, Canada and began show more working at Ottawa's National Research Council. She started writing survival stories and science fiction novels for young adults. Her works include the Isis trilogy and Hunter in the Dark. She won numerous awards including the Phoenix Award for literary merit. She was named to the Order of Canada in 2002. She died from a stroke on March 7, 2003 at the age of 77. (Bowker Author Biography) show less
Image credit: Monica Hughes (1925-2003) from Life in Legacy


Works by Monica Hughes

Invitation to the Game (1990) 595 copies
The Keeper of the Isis Light (1980) 330 copies
Devil on My Back (1984) 165 copies
The Guardian of Isis (1981) 165 copies
The Isis Pedlar (1982) 113 copies
Crisis on Conshelf Ten (1975) 84 copies
Hunter in the dark (1982) 78 copies
The Crystal Drop (1992) 77 copies
The Dream Catcher (1986) 72 copies
A Handful of Seeds (1993) 67 copies
The tomorrow city (1978) 65 copies
Sandwriter (1985) 59 copies
Space Trap (1983) 57 copies
The Golden Aquarians (1995) 56 copies
Earthdark (1977) 53 copies
Ring-Rise, Ring-Set (1767) 50 copies
Little Fingerling (1989) 45 copies
Castle Tourmandyne (1995) 45 copies
Log Jam, or Spirit River (1987) 37 copies
The Promise (1989) 36 copies
What If...? : Amazing Stories (1998) — Editor — 29 copies
The Maze (1664) 27 copies
The Other Place (1999) 26 copies
The Story Box (1998) 23 copies
The Seven Magpies (1996) 21 copies
Blaine's Way (1986) 21 copies
Storm Warning (2000) 18 copies
The Faces of Fear (1997) 17 copies
Beyond the Dark River (1979) 16 copies
The Ghost Dance Caper (1978) 13 copies
My Name is Paula Popowich! (1983) 12 copies
The Refuge (1992) 11 copies
Beckoning Lights (1990) 11 copies

Associated Works


Common Knowledge




First in a trilogy, this tells the story of the culture clash between Olwen, survivor of the family sent to the planet Isis to tend the beacon there and survey the planet for human colonisation, and the newly arrived colonists. Olwen's Guardian robot, her friend and servant, has adapted his charge to survive on Isis and this brings her into a serious clash with the colonists, with resultant heartbreak for Olwen, and sets up the situation for the next volume in the series.

There are some fine evocations of the alien planet with its different lifeforms and the wildness of the mountains, and Olwen is described vividly also.

Quite an interesting YA tale which deals with issues such as prejudice, attitudes to people who are different in some way, and how sentient a robot could become. There's also the background information of how humans have totally wrecked Earth and are now spreading out into the galaxy, seemingly without having learned any lessons from what they have done to the home planet. This gives the book an underlying thread of pessimism, not that common in a YA novel, at least of the period when it was written.
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kitsune_reader | 10 other reviews | Nov 23, 2023 |
Second volume in the Isis trilogy. In this, the third generation of children have been born and a rigid, taboo bound society has developed in the colony that was established in the first volume. Survivors of the original colonists are labelled 'Firsts', their children 'Seconds' and so on down to 'Fourths'.

Jody is the youngest Third and finds himself a misfit, partly because of the enmity between his grandfather of the same name, who was rescued by the Keeper of the Isis Light, Olwen, in the first volume, and Mark London, Olwen's lost love who has become the President. Mark presides over a primitive society that he has deliberately made so, cutting them off from knowledge of who they really are and from technology, so that when Olwen's Guardian robot supplies 'gifts' over the years to fix things that don't work any more, such as the communication device, they are totally ignorant of the purposes of such things and instead revere them as artefacts only viewable by the favoured few. They now believe the Guardian is a god - pretty ironic when the first book showed how the colonists looked down on him as a robot - and London's machinations have worked so well that Fourths now don't even believe that the colony came from Earth, and think the stars are just decorations in the sky.

The river which once drained through sinkholes and emerged in another valley, has become blocked and the valley is becoming flooded, a serious problem as the rariefied atmosphere of the high passes is almost unbreathable to the humans who have been told not to go to those places anyway by the taboos Mark has created in the wake of his disappointment and anger about Olwen's true nature. Jody tries to alert people to the danger but Mark does everything possible short of murdering the young man, to ensure that his warnings are ignored - pretty illogical but we are meant to feel Mark's pride is too strong for him to unbend even for the survival of his people. It is only when he engineers things so that Jody has to journey out of the valley to seek help from the Guardian, that the young man finally learns the truth.

I wasn't totally convinced that the society would have lost all its knowledge in this time scale. Hughes tries to overcome this by saying that Mark has taught everyone to ignore what the 'elders' say about the old days, and yet he is an elder himself! Also why is Mark not able to e.g. change a lightbulb in the 'Sacred Cave' as they now call the cave housing the computer that was meant to keep them connected with the Guardian (after he and Olwen left at the end of the first book) - Mark could surely make out that he is the only one with a special relationship with the Guardian and therefore able to deal with his gifts. However, he is also supposed to have turned against technology: the only explanation given for this comes later in the story, when Olwen and the Guardian theorise that Mark has turned against technology because it was used by the Guardian when Olwen was a child, giving her various adaptations so that she could survive the thin air in the higher land, and be physically tough enough to be protected from UV and other dangers. Because of the Guardian's mistake in initially giving Olwen an all-enveloping suit to wear, ostensibly to avoid risk of infection from the newly landed colonists but actually to allow them to get to know her before being confronted with her different appearance, Mark fell in love with Olwen - as she did with him - but totally turned against her when he saw her without her suit, unable to see the beauty in her differences.

It is never explained, but presumably the lowly position of women, which Jody wonders about early on in the story, but which is soon dropped as a subject, is another example of Mark's vindictiveness - because a woman 'disappointed' him, he makes the lives of all women a drudgery. I wasn't totally convinced either by the ending - although Jody solves the problem of the flooding, with the Guardian's help, he has to go back and face London and the rest of them, without anything changing for the best in his society. He is also not to tell them that the Guardian fixed it - so how will he be allowed back if he doesn't say that he actually fulfilled the mission he was in effect banished to carry out?
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kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
The third volume of the Isis trilogy - unlike the first two, which I kept and have recently re-read, I didn't enjoy this one and passed it on to a charity shop some years back. It doesn't feature the main characters of the first two stories, though I think young Jody is in it, older, but it deals with how some of the wrongs of the colony are finally eased.

I think the reason I wasn't keen was the theme of the villain from outside who intrudes to con the colonists, instead of having them somehow come out from the deluded attitudes seen in the second book. It would've been better if Hughes had instead written another book set between the first 2 volumes, which dealt with how Mark Taylor took over the colony and showed the struggle between him and the older Jody - that would have made for a tense and dramatic story that came out of the original set of characters.… (more)
kitsune_reader | Nov 23, 2023 |
A little dated now, but this is a different take on an idea first developed by D F Jones in his series of books about Colossus the super computer, and turned into a film 'Colossus: The Forbin Project'. The difference here is that the computer in Hughes' novel has been developed to make a city perfect whereas the 1960s Colossus novels and film deal with a computer developed to run the nuclear defence of North America. And the protagonists here are a fourteen year old girl, Caro, and her friend David.

Caro's father has developed the computer and Caro herself inadvertantly influences its programming when she gives it advice after its first efforts at efficiency - to utilise the parking spaces of council officials in the evening for public parking - don't go down well and it seems the Mayor might 'pull the plug' or at least force her father to take out the computer's self governance. Her advice that the computer must 'make people like it' are taken too literally, in typical machine fashion. Soon the computer is hypnotising the adults through cable TV soap opera to accepts its edicts which become increasingly repressive - old people in hospital have their life support turned off, for example - and the city becomes an enclave cut off from the outside world. Caro's father is touring the country, extoiling the value of the system to other cities, so there is the additional threat that the repression might spread. It is up to Caro and David to try to halt the computer's mindcontrol.

For a YA novel and of that period, this has a pretty downbeat ending, and also has unresolved questions about whether other characters actually survive or not. The relationship between the two main characters came over to me as a bit symplistic and I didn't enjoy this one as much as volumes 1 and 2 of her Keeper of the Isis Light trilogy.
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kitsune_reader | 1 other review | Nov 23, 2023 |



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