Fiction Week

By Dmitry Filipoff

From Nov. 23 to Dec. 7, 2020, CIMSEC ran fictional short stories submitted in response to our Short Story Fiction Contest, launched in partnership with the U.S. Naval Institute, as a part of CIMSEC’s Project Trident.

The CIMSEC-USNI call for short stories received a record-shattering 122 submissions, giving rise to a strongly contested competition. The top finishers were ultimately selected by our esteemed panel of judges, which included August Cole, David Weber, Larry Bond, Kathleen McGinnis, Peter Singer, and Ward Carroll. These finishers and top contenders were featured during CIMSEC’s Fiction Contest Week.

Authors artfully explored the future of maritime security and conflict, and hinted at the challenges and opportunities that lay just over the horizon. New warfighting concepts currently being tested by the Navy and Marine Corps were envisioned and thrust into the crucible of high-end warfighting. Artificial intelligence demonstrated immense capability as an asset, but also extreme liability as an experiment. Fast-paced combat scenes were complimented by the tedium of anxious anticipation. And the invisible scars of war were unearthed and made fresh again, while laying forward a path for personal redemption. 

Below are the top finishers and stories that featured during CIMSEC’s Fiction Contest Week. We thank the judges, our partners at USNI, and all submitting authors for their excellent contributions.

1st Place: Crowdfunded,” by Sergeant Major Mike Burke, U.S. Marine Corps (ret.), and Major Nicholas Nethery, U.S. Army

2nd Place: Black September,” by Mike Barretta

3rd Place:  Letter of Marque,” by Hal Wilson

Nautilus,” by Ben Plotkin
The Cost of Lies,” by Maj. Ian Brown, USMC
Front Row Seats In Tomorrow’s War,” by H I Sutton
Mischief and Mayhem,” by LtCol Robert Lamont, USMC (ret.)
Bandit,” by Brian Williams
In Sight of the Past,” by Capt. Patrick Schalk, USMC
Kill or Be Killed,” by Jim Dietz
Petrel,” by
Dylan Phillips-Levine and Trevor Phillips-Levine
Awoken,” by Brent Gaskey
Wolfpack Four Six,” by Lieutenant Christopher Giraldi, USN
Jennings,” by Ryan Belscamper
Don’t Give Up The Ship,” by Major Brian Kerg, USMC
In The WEZ,” by Capt. Michael Hanson, USMC
My Lai,” by Zack Sanzone
Reunion,” by Adm. James Winnefeld (ret.)
The Price of Fish,” by Lieutenant Commander Ross Baxter, RD RNR (ret.)
Prisoner of the Shallows,” by Jacob Parakilas

Dmitry Filipoff is CIMSEC’s Director of Online Content. Contact him at

Featured Image: “Port” by Alexander Apeshin (via Artstation)

Fostering the Discussion on Securing the Seas.