The Challenge

Fiction is a powerful tool for testing hypotheticals and imagining other worlds as a means of examining our own. Once again, CIMSEC and the U.S. Naval Institute have partnered to invite authors to ask "What if?" as a means of exploring different visions of the future of maritime security.

Authors might consider how conflicts might play out in the near or distant future. Or they might use historical fiction or alternate history as a means of illuminating something important about today's international environment. All that is required is a compelling tale, a convincing narrative, and a chance to learn something about today through the author's exploration of yesterday, today, or tomorrow.

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 2022.
  • 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 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 staffs and judging panel will not know the authors of the essays.

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 or on the Naval Institute and CIMSEC websites. Non-winning essays also may be selected for publication.

Selected Submissions

First Prize
Ralph G. Francisco
Second Prize
Ben Plotkin
Third Prize
Tyler E. Totten
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Previous Winners