View Full Version : Best in-classroom SFF scenes?

12-19-2014, 05:00 AM
Recently I've had a frustrating run of reading stories that start with the main character going to some space academy or magic academy or ninja academy, but then mostly skip over the part I actually want to see, which is the main character learning SFnal things in class. So, anyone want to recommend a novel or anime or w/e which shows SFnal things actually being taught?

12-19-2014, 05:11 AM
I assume you've already read Harry Potter.

I'd mention the upper MG fantasy in my signature, but as you can see, it's not yet complete. ;)

12-19-2014, 05:40 AM
The zero-g "laser tag" games in Ender's Game (and Ender's Shadow) are essential parts of the characters' education in space warfare... do those count, or are you looking for a more traditional desk-and-teacher situation? If so, I'd have to agree with rwm that Harry Potter's probably gonna be your best bet.

Tamora Pierce's Circle of Magic series (and the follow-up, The Circle Opens) deal with the education of young mages, though it's more of a one-on-one thing or small groups rather than an academy setting.

Kim Richardson's Mystics series has a magic school and follows the MC through a few lessons.

Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind also has a little on the MC's magic education, including one in-class challenge between students.

And there's some classroom stuff in Jane Yolen's Wizard's Hall.

I also believe there were a few class sequences in Diana Wynne Jones's The Year of the Griffin, but the instructors there tended to be ineffective.

E. Rose Sabin's A School of Sorcery is set in a magic school very unlike Hogwarts; IIRC, there is some mention of the lessons and classes.

Hopefully, some of those have what you're looking for.

I think part of the reason it's hard to find a good class scene is that it can be tough to pull off without coming across like a lecture/infodump.

12-19-2014, 12:46 PM
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller - the series starting with Fledgling. These are off to one side of the main Liaden story thread which they interweave with more in the later books (but still mostly their own series).

Youngster on a rather conformist planet dealing with that and going off to pilot school. Plenty of details in there on the learning to fly.

12-19-2014, 01:26 PM
Trudy Canavan's Magician's Guild has a fair bit of magic school in it. I can't say I cared for it much myself but you might like it if that's what you're after.

Brent Weeks' Night Angel also has a student/teacher thing going on, but that's more one-on-one than classroom stuff.

12-19-2014, 01:51 PM
Since you mentioned anime, I recall the Blue Exorcist actually having classroom scenes.

John Ayliff
12-19-2014, 07:02 PM
Ursula Le Guin's A Wizard of Earthsea has the main character go to wizard school for a large part of the book.

Military sf books sometimes follow their main characters through training, which can include classroom instruction. Starship Troopers (Robert Heinlein) and The Forever War (Joe Haldeman) both do this, if I recall correctly.

Alfred Bester's The Demolished Man has a lovely scene where young telepaths are being taught telepathy in a classroom, but it's only a short scene and not the focus of the book.

12-19-2014, 08:42 PM
A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermere takes place in, well, a college that...hmm If I go into more detail I may spoil it. But you might check that out as a book involved in the acquisition of magic.

There are scenes in Rosemary Kirstein's The Lost Steersman about learning to be a Steerswoman. I would highly recommend reading the first two books in the series (]Steerswoman and The Outskirter's Secret) before reading that book, though.

There are some scenes later in Falling Free by Lois McMaster Bujold where they make the ice dies about teaching the Quaddies that sort of engineering. Not a school setting, though.

All of Year of the Griphon , mentioned above, is funny, though not as funny as the previous book Dark Lord of Derkhelm. And there are quite a few scenes involving the students learning magic.

12-20-2014, 12:03 AM
Barbara Hambly

Ladies of Madrigyn - has sections on sword and battle training - and how well the pupils do for real.

Sorcerer's Ward - the same for magic - it is mostly out in the world but recent student.

Realm of Darwath trilogy - magic training in that, but it is in one of the later books. You do need to read the other books first. Thinking about it, there is battle training in the first book not very extensive but has an amusing edge to it.

Lois McMaster Bujold Sharing Knife series - that has learning and training through it. Not a major part of the page count but important to the story.

12-29-2014, 12:35 PM
There are some great scenes with Ebling Mis in the University in the second half of Asimov's Foundation and Empire.

Mark Moore
12-30-2014, 12:34 AM
It's not anime, but the Italian cartoon series, "Winx Club", is basically a cross between Sailor Moon and Harry Potter, dealing with magical girls attending a school for fairies. In addition to classroom learning scenes, you also get the traditional transformation sequences and magical attacks.

After an initial dub of the first three seasons by 4Kids that aired on Kids' WB! from 2004 to 2007 (and later rerun on the successor, The CW 4Kids, shamelessly advertised as "All New" as if no one would remember), the original, in-house English dub (known as the RAI dub) of seasons 1 and 2 have been released on DVD in North America (in addition, it's also available on Netflix; confusingly, the Netflix entries credit the 4Kids voice actors). You can get the DVD of season 1 here (http://www.amazon.com/Winx-Club-Complete-Original-Season/dp/B00H0EN9BQ/ref=sr_1_7?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1419884417&sr=1-7&keywords=winx+club) and the DVD of season 2 here (http://www.amazon.com/Winx-Club-Complete-Original-Season/dp/B00IE6SUGI/ref=sr_1_11?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1419884417&sr=1-11&keywords=winx+club). A note: this dub was primarily meant to make it easier for foreign markets to dub the series into their own native languages and wasn't really meant for general release, and, well, you can tell. There's something...off about it that I can't put my finger on. Also, the English cast doesn't seem to have IMDb entries.

To confuse matters, Nickelodeon has picked up the rights to the series, redubbed season 3, and then dubbed season 4 onward (as well as the two CGI feature films). Around half of season 4 has been released on DVD - but not in season 4 sets; they're released as bonuses on the DVD releases of the two CGI films (first film here (http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B007MFFGWI/ref=dp_mv_of_dp_0)). I had gotten both films at Walmart, but the second film on DVD on Amazon seems to be PAL only.

From what I can tell, you can get season 1-2 (likely the RAI dub), seasons 4 onward (likely the Nick dub), and the two CGI films (likely the Nick dub) on Amazon Instant Video, but not season 3. Good luck.

Yeah, the release of this series is a mess.

Nickelodeon apparently couldn't be bothered to redub seasons 1 and 2 with their own cast, so they (I kid you not) got Rainbow (the original Italian production company) to animate a miniseries version of seasons 1 and 2 (same basic plot, but faster-paced, with new animation and in widescreen; there are 4 episodes of 47 minutes each; two episodes cover season 1, and two episodes cover season 2), and they did an English dub of that. This is available on Amazon Instant Video here (http://www.amazon.com/Winx-Club/dp/B0058LHXF6/ref=sr_1_2?s=movies-tv&ie=UTF8&qid=1419884417&sr=1-2&keywords=winx+club). I'd like to watch it for curiosity's sake, but, eh, whatever.