M Puzzle: Second Game

by Lance Nathan

The flavor text suggests that these plotlines come from elsewhere, and indeed, they're all the plots of novels and shorter works that were nominated for Hugos ("Les Mis") but did not win, as the title suggests ("Second Game" is also the title of a Hugo-nominated novella). The stories are, in order:

Taking the first letters (or in one case, number; and ignoring that pesky article in the Le Guin title) of the works that beat them...

...gives POHL, LAST WINNER, 1ST WORD. Frederick Pohl won three Hugos, the last of which was for his short story "Fermi and Frost." The answer is FERMI.


The reference to "mapping out" plotlines suggests using the cartography training puzzle on this answer. Decrypting FERMI using the code in that puzzle gives the real answer, which is DRIVE.