Future imperfect

Future imperfect

Our Young Post short story competition winner combined her creativity with a love of science to craft a futuristic tale of a young girl's journey to the past

Kwong Yee-man imagines the future world to be grey and sunless, covered with sand and dust, and with no traces of trees or flowers remaining. The surviving population wears masks due to the excessive pollution and lack of oxygen. This is the setting of her short story that won this year's Young Post short story competition.

"I love sci-fi stories. I always wanted to write a story about the future," says the 16-year-old Form Five student from Po Leung Kuk Centenary Li Shiu Chung Memorial College. "It gives me space to imagine things and allows my creative juices to flow."

The science student loves to push her creativity to the limit and even won a local science competition by creating a shoe polish using her own hair.

The title of the YP competition - "I found a book" - grabbed Yee-man's attention. "I thought to myself: What could I write about? Then, ideas flew in, and I knew I would write something about the environment." So she created a female character, Erica, who found a book by accident and had no idea if the content was real.

"Erica did not know what the objects in the book, such as flowers or trees, were, because in her time, she had never seen any of them," the young author explains. "After discovering the ancient book, she set off on a special journey and learned about the past when the land had trees and plants, and the sun was shining in a big, blue sky."

Like other students, Yee-man is learning about global warming and there are recycling activities in school, but she thinks it is not enough. "These activities have more impact on junior students," she says. "However, when students get to senior forms, they don't seem to care. Perhaps it's because there is a lot more happening in their lives."

Through her story, she hopes she has found a way to tell young people why they should still care.

Yee-man loves reading - one of her favourite books is The Last Lecture by Randy Pausch. She says reading is an important factor in honing her writing skills.

"I love reading Chinese fiction and English non-fiction titles," she says. "I also love online novels, especially those from Taiwan. The writers may not be famous, but their writing is very good. Reading others' work helps me to write better."

The teenager has her own views of what constitutes a good story. "I think a good story needs to have great details that sustain a reader's interest," she says. "There should be hidden and clever clues which lead them to a moment of 'Aha!' - but it shouldn't be too predictable.

"And the most important thing is to leave some space for people to imagine and figure things out by themselves."

As for Yee-man's own future, she wants to work for National Geographic magazine and be able to travel and write at the same time.

"I want a life of adventure and discovery. I may look like a quiet person who buries my head in books, but my mind is always filled with lots of ideas."

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