Books

Destination Simulation by Jasmine Farah

Jasmine Farah, 16, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Jasmine Farah, 16, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 10 to 12 category of The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Jasmine Farah)

Destination Simulation by Jasmine Farah is one of 10 stories shortlisted for 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. More than 2,000 students submitted their stories.

Farah, 16, a student at Traditional Learning Academy Online in Bowen Island, B.C., writes about the advancement of technology and the COVID-19 pandemic.


No one had ever seen my face, and I'd never seen anyone else's. Most people hadn't even stepped foot outside since the beginning of the Pandemic. That was why the Hover Pod ejected me right into my front foyer like a heap of scrap metal. I took a deep breath to secure my lunch, which was threatening to dump onto my polished floor. I don't do well with motion in the real world, and the way those H-Pods zip you around is enough to have anyone's stomach churning in protest.

Slightly dizzy, I wandered into the living room of my new suite. Sweet. The BronzeX Suite was way bigger than my last place. My few things had already been transferred and my VR headsets were hung on the wall. I had my eyes fixed on this Suite for some time, and after my bloody victory at the Hand and Sword Combat Finals, I had enough hard cash to afford it. I remember the look on my foe's face once he was vanquished. The dribbles of blood cascading onto my hand, forming little confluences across my coded skin. My knife submitted to every command; every swish and swing my arm made. It reminded me of my first time holding a throwing knife.

No one had ever seen my face, and I'd never seen anyone else's. Most people hadn't even stepped foot outside since the beginning of the Pandemic.

The weight of a knife in my hand was daunting. I remember the AI trainer-1 instructing me how to throw a knife on my eighth birthday. I had seen players fight in the HSC finals and immediately knew what I wanted to train for. I gathered all my strength, hope, and ambitions into that knife. I hurled it with all my might and soul. Of course, it missed. The blade lay on the grass sparkling in the sun. I remember thinking it seemed to be laughing with glinting eyes full of mockery. I picked it up, disappointed. The steel felt cold and cruel in my tiny hands. 

From that moment on, I was determined. I practiced every chance I got, dulling the mockery of the blade, each time it sunk into the target. If my eight-year-old self could see me now, a pro HSC player, he would have cried tears of joy. What can I say, I was an ambitious kid. The BronzeX Suite was proof enough. I looked out at the 15-metre long wall of smart glass and smirked. Cairo was going to be so jealous.


About The First Page student writing challenge

David A. Robertson is a Governor General's Literary Award-winning author and judge of the 2020 First Page student writing challenge. (Amber Green)

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2170. 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 author David A. Robertson

Robertson is a Cree writer from Winnipeg who writes books for readers of all ages — including the Governor General's Literary Award-winning picture book, When We Were Alone and the Reckoner Rises graphic novel series.

The winner will be announced on CBC Books on April 16, 2021.

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 free YA books.

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