Books·The First Page

Data Wars by Trent Baker

Read the first page of Trent Baker's novel imagining the world in 150 years.

2017 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Trent Baker is a finalist for the 2017 The First Page student writing challenge in the Grades 10 to 12 category. (Courtesy of Trent Baker)

Data Wars by Trent Cole is one of 10 stories shortlisted for CBC Books' The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 10 to 12 category. Students across Canada wrote the first page of a novel set 150 years in the future, imagining how a current-day trend or issue has played out. Over 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Baker, a student at Three Oaks Senior High in Summerside, P.E.I., tackles net neutrality in his piece.

Listen to Trent Baker on Mainstreet PEI below:

"There was once a time that anyone could put anything on the net. They called it the information superhighway," Adam explained for what felt like the thousandth time while he unveiled the bolt cutters from within his worn jacket. "And anyone could boot up any device and read that anything. You couldn't walk for five minutes without seeing one."

These were the stories my uncle loved to tell, even though they predated even him by decades. He grew up in this world of conflict and censorship just as I am now, just like everyone. The tales of a better time before us were precious, passed on through word of mouth and outlawed writings of the deceased. But mainly from invaluable digital information looted from corporate stashes in data leeching sessions like the one he and I were on now. 

"Getting in is the easy part," he said, rather nonchalantly as he began fumbling with the chain fence in the moonlight. "Getting the data isn't difficult either. The real kicker is time. It can take five minutes just getting past the encryption for one page, and we surely don't want to be sticking around if any patrolling Commies comes to check on the stash."

Adam found it humorous to call the military under the government's rule 'Commies,' named after the corrupt nature of their overall cause in comparison to the American portrayal of the Cold War, a practically ancient topic which he boasted his collection of research in. It was the nickname that the U.S. called their rivals, but I had to admit, it was a clever pun of the true name of the Company. We had learned this company ended the peace, grew in power and practically bought the government, stripping away the western concept of freedom. 

After he had roughly chewed through the barrier, Adam and I advanced to the data banks, and he taught me to set up the equipment. 

"This should be a cakewalk, a perfect leech for a rookie like yourself." I smiled. My parents were concerned for me and treated our cause more like a cult, blinded by the corporate lies blatantly plastered about the city, posters boasting the danger of groups like ours. But Adam was different, a true parental figure, my symbol of hope in these unbeknowingly trying times. I was pretty sure he considered me a half decent daughter-figure as well.

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2167. They wrote the first page of a book set 150 years in the future, with the protagonist facing an issue that's topical today and set the scene for how it's all playing out in a century and a half.

Two winning entries — one from the Grades 7 to 9 category and one from the Grades 10 to 12 category — will be chosen by award-winning YA writer Erin Bow, author of The Scorpion Rules. The winner will be announced on CBC Radio's q on Jan. 24, 2018.

Both winners will receive a one-year subscription to OwlCrate, which sends fresh boxes of books to young readers across Canada on a monthly basis. In addition, each of the winners' schools will receive 50 YA books.

CBC Books' next student writing competition is the Shakespeare Selfie Student Writing Challenge, which will open in April 2018.