Books

The Earth Odyssey by Enya Fang

Enya Fang, 13, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge.

2020 finalist: Grades 7 to 9 category

Enya Fang, 13, is one of 10 finalists in the Grades 7 to 9 category of The First Page student writing challenge (Submitted by Enya Fang)

The Earth Odyssey by Enya Fang is one of 10 stories shortlisted for The First Page student writing competition in the Grades 7 to 9 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.

Fang, 13, a student at Southridge School in Surrey, B.C., writes about environmental negligence.


After nearly four decades, we're finally back on earth.

Or rather, what's left of it.

A glare of sunlight pierced through my vision, warmth mingling along with the cool, stirring draft. Tightening the straps along my heat-controlled Wind Suit, I quickly fastened my filter helmet before stepping off the Landing Deck.

I gasped at the sight that greeted me.

Towering skyscrapers once bright and alive with the constant rush of busy civilians debilitated to mere piles of rubble. Rare glimpses of greenery years ago, luscious and thriving, now an absent presence altogether. Pieces of junk lay littered across the barren landscape, frail and battered under the scorching sun. Murmurs of horror chimed from crewmates beside me, a desolate echo against the putrid, haze-concentrated atmosphere.

It was even worse than when we'd left it.

I forced my eyes shut, trying to imagine Earth before the Great Evacuation. Before Officials finally recognized that the only planet we've ever called home was finally destroyed beyond relief. I pictured lively, cheerful towns alive with the laughter of children. I envisioned luscious, dense forests towering over rolling green hills that tumbled along the countryside. I imagined the ripples of waves lapping ashore, carried by a salty breeze. I depicted Earth as we've always been taught, through images only seen on textbooks: beautiful, healthy and thriving.

I depicted Earth as we've always been taught, through images only seen on textbooks: beautiful, healthy and thriving.

Someone's gloved hand, a crewmate, rapped my shoulder. Right, our mission. When life scans didn't deem as sufficient, the New Agency of Officials hand-selected a team of 16 to carry out a specific task: identify and retrieve a source of life back to Cerius. Most of the 26,000 evacuated families couldn't have cared less about Earth, but I did. I had lived and loved our planet enough that I understand we're the reason why it's suffering. Why it's depleted of all it's beautiful resources and flourishing biomes.

The emptiness that hung miserably in the air was haunting; it was as if Mother Earth knew of the fate that awaited her.

A sudden shout from across the landscape had me alert. My fellow crewmates, clustered excitedly around something green on th — wait, something green?!

Pebbles crunched under my footsteps as I hastened across the dusty ground, heart ramming against my chest.

No.

It couldn't be.

In the middle of this empty, desolate landscape, defying all odds, a single stem of tender green sprouts, swaying to the breeze.


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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