The Challenge

Fiction is a powerful means for exploring hypotheticals and envisioning alternatives. CIMSEC and the U.S. Naval Institute are partnering to invite authors to share their visions of the future in the second joint fiction essay contest.

Authors should probe the future of international maritime security and conflict, in this world or another. Explore the future and flesh out concepts for how potential discord may play out, or use alternative history to comment on issues that will affect that future. Authors are invited to submit their stories along these lines and more.

Submission Guidelines

  • Open to all contributors.
  • Essay must be no more than 3,000 words maximum (excludes endnotes/sources).
  • Include word count on title page of essay but do not include author name(s) on title page or within the text.
  • Submit essay as a Microsoft Word document online at by 15 September 2021.
  • Essay must be original and not previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere. 
  • Only one entry per contributor. 

Selection Process

The Naval Institute and CIMSEC staffs will evaluate all entries submitted in the contest and provide the top essays to a select panel of military novelists for judging. All essays will be judged in the blind--i.e., the judges will not know the authors of the manuscripts. Finalists will be judged by August Cole, Peter Singer, Kathleen McInnis, Ward Carroll, David Weber, and Larry Bond.

First Prize: $500 and a 1-year membership in the Naval Institute and CIMSEC

Second Prize: $300 and a 1-year membership in the Naval Institute and CIMSEC

Third Prize: $200 and a 1-year membership in the Naval Institute and CIMSEC


The winning essays will be published in Proceedings magazine and on the Naval Institute and CIMSEC websites. Some non-winning essays may also be selected for publication.

Selected Submissions

First Prize
Captain James D. Schmitt, U.S. Air Force
Second Prize
Bone Daddy
Michael Barretta
Third Prize
Reality Hack
Lieutenant Robert Williscroft, U.S. Navy (Retired)
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Previous Winners