Announcing the CIMSEC and U.S. Naval Institute Short Story Fiction Contest

By the Editorial Staff of CIMSEC and USNI Proceedings

Fiction has long served as a powerful means for exploring hypotheticals and envisioning alternatives. CIMSEC and the U.S. Naval Institute have partnered to invite authors to share their vision of the future of international maritime security, in this world or another. Authors can explore the future and flesh out concepts for how potential conflicts may play out. They could probe the past, and use historical fiction as a device to explore alternative histories. Authors are invited to submit their stories along these lines and more as they craft compelling narratives.


Open to all contributors—active-duty military, reservists, veterans, and civilians.

Submission Guidelines

Word Count: 5,000 words maximum, 1,000 word minimum (excludes any endnotes/sources). Include word count on title page of short story but do not include author name(s) on title page or within the short story. Submit essay as a Word document online at

Deadline: September 30, 2020. Note: Your short story must be original and not previously published (online or in print) or being considered for publication elsewhere. Limit to one story per contestant.

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 essays.

Finalists will be judged by August Cole, Peter Singer, Kathleen McGinnis, 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.

Additional prizes may also be awarded.


The winning essays will be published in Proceedings magazine, and on the Naval Institute and CIMSEC websites in early December. Non-winning essays may also be selected for publication.

We look forward to receiving your submissions, and for partnering with the U.S. Naval Institute on CIMSEC’s Project Trident to enhance the conversation around maritime security.

Featured Image: “Super Hornet” by Ivan Sevic via Artstation

5 thoughts on “Announcing the CIMSEC and U.S. Naval Institute Short Story Fiction Contest”

  1. Is your preference for submissions that are more technology-centric (postulating/exploring future real-world weapons) with less “story arc” OR more traditional character-centric fiction that incidentally features near-term military sci-fi components? Thanks.

    1. Henry,

      We have no preference for technology-centric topics over any others. Our panel of judges will select the winners based on the quality of writing. We simply want to explore the future of international maritime security using fiction. You can do that with as much focus on technology as you like, in any time period, or even in an alternate reality! You have a blank canvas! Hope this helps!

      Jimmy Drennan
      President, CIMSEC

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