Books·The First Page

The Incendiary Division by Carter Tsui

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

2018 finalist: Grades 10 to 12 category

Carter Tsui, 16, is a 2018 finalist in the Grades 10 to 12 category for The First Page student writing challenge. (Submitted by Carter Tsui)

The Incendiary Division by Carter Tsui 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. Nearly 2,400 students submitted their stories.

Tsui, a student at Dr. Charles Best Secondary School in Coquitlam, B.C., tackles racism and homophobia in The Incendiary Division.

The scene outside the Seacouver federal court house was a fiasco. Riot police dressed in full gear clashed with protesters. The mix of humans and androids pushed against the electrified shields of the police, bricks were thrown from windows, homemade Molotovs hurtled over the front line and exploded deep within the ranks. The smell of burning objects and gunpowder floated in the air, the smell of chaos. The white marble building, normally radiating the power of the system, was now covered in graffiti and the marble chipped to hell. 

Shouts and curses from the crowd muffled the sound of the two marble doors swinging open. From within, two individuals dressed all in orange, with black hoods covering their head, were led down the stairs by four state marshals, flanked by federal officers. The orange sleeves of the jumpsuits were rolled up on the two prisoners. The forearm of one of them was human, small and delicate, a woman. The other, light glinting off the metallic arm, was most likely male, larger and more robust. 

When the crowd recognized the two different species, a bloodthirsty uproar shook the ground. The protestors became more and more restless as more and more couples were shipped out from the courthouse to waiting prison transports. While not every couple was the same, they all shared one attribute; one of the members was android, the other human. 

This was not an uncommon sight, human-android couples being treated as criminals. Interspecies relationships were illegal, and highly controversial to the general public. With the government sending humans and androids to secret "correctional facilities" to "fix" them, it was easy to see why this bill was so unpopular. 

While it has only been 10 years scene the first androids were built, the android species were still believed by many to be below humans. This led to resistance groups blowing up around the world, Pro rights for androids, Pro relations between species, and of course the groups who believe androids were superior to humans, known as the Claxon group. 

Modern law enforcement was comprised of four groups, Judiciary, a feared group who would take androids and humans from their homes at night; Android police, the group who would respond to any android related incidents; the Human police, human-related incidents; and finally, the Military police, the most feared group. 

And I, Braxton Clyde, worked for a secret fifth group.

About The First Page student writing challenge

CBC Books asked students to give us a glimpse of the great Canadian novel of the year 2168. 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 Cherie Dimaline, author of The Marrow Thieves. The winner will be announced on CBC Books on Feb. 22, 2019.

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's next writing competition for students is the Shakespeare Selfie student writing challenge, which will open in April 2019.