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GURPS Social Engineering: Back to School – Cover

You can find an index of all the GURPS bibliographies we have online here. If you spot any broken links or other problems with this page, please report them to

Bibliography for GURPS Social Engineering: Back to School

A surprising number of works tell tales of schools, learning, teaching, and so on, and might prove inspirational for campaigns that explore such themes.


Allende, Isabel. Zorro (Harper Perennial, 2006). A retelling of the life of Don Diego de la Vega, emphasizing the early experiences that enabled him to become a costumed adventurer.

Brunner, John. Stand on Zanzibar (Orb, 2011). One of the plotlines of this classic novel has a character undergoing technologically accelerated training for covert operations.

Byatt, A.S. Possession (Vintage, 1991). A story about scholarly research and the dangerous passions that can influence it, as two researchers are haunted by the subjects of their research.

Card, Orson Scott. Ender's Game (Tor, 1994). The first novel in a highly regarded series portrays the training of a brilliant child, who is a potential military genius, for service in an interstellar war.

Dean, Pamela. Tam Lin (Firebird, 2006). Interweaves the academic careers of a group of students at a Midwestern university with a complex supernatural plot.

Dent, Lester (as Kenneth Robeson). The Man of Bronze & The Land of Terror (Nostalgia Ventures, 2008). The Man of Bronze kicks off a long-running pulp series about a man trained to near-superhuman abilities.

Grossman, Lev. The Magicians (Plume, 2010). A postmodern exploration of the education of wizards, set at a present-day academy of magic.

Heinlein, Robert A. Space Cadet (Orb, 2006). Young men from all over the solar system train to become officers of the Space Patrol – a modern-day version of Plato's "guardians."

Heinlein, Robert A. Starship Troopers (Ace, 1987). The education of a soldier and a citizen – from high school through boot camp to OCS – is a central theme of this classic of military science fiction.

Heinlein, Robert A. Tunnel in the Sky (Pocket Books, 2005). A final examination in a course in survival, held on another planet, turns into a prolonged adventure.

Herbert, Frank. Dune (Ace, 1990). Much of this novel concerns the education of its hero, first as a nobleman's son and then as a refugee among the tribes of a desert planet.

Hesse, Hermann. The Glass Bead Game (Picador, 2002). The life story of a scholar in a future European society, focused on an arcane game of manipulating cultural symbols – and on his eventual renunciation of it.

Kipling, Rudyard. Kim (Simon & Brown, 2011). The story of an orphaned Irish boy in India being trained to serve the British government as a spy.

Kipling, Rudyard. Stalky & Co. (Elibron Classics, 2000). A series of school stories written in a subversive spirit that celebrates its characters' cleverness in breaking the rules.

Le Guin, Ursula. A Wizard of Earthsea (HMH Books for Young Readers, 2012). A story of the education of a great wizard, with one of the first literary portrayals of a school of magic.

Leiber, Fritz. Conjure Wife (Orb, 2009). An anthropology professor at a small-town college discovers that his wife is using magic – and so are all the other faculty wives.

Lovecraft, H.P. At the Mountains of Madness (Sterling, 2012). Perhaps the most purely science fictional of Lovecraft's stories, in which a geological expedition sent by Miskatonic University to explore Antarctica's interior makes unexpected discoveries.

Lynch, Scott. The Lies of Locke Lamora (Del Rey, 2007). The education of a young thief and conman in a corrupt fantasy city.

Rowling, J.K. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Scholastic Press, 1998). The best-known magical school story of the present day. Hogwarts embodies nearly all the tropes of classic British school stories.

Sayers, Dorothy L. Gaudy Night (Harper, 2012). Sayers sends Harriet Vane back to her college at Oxford, where she becomes involved in solving a mystery and in debates over scholarly ethics.

Shaw, Bernard. Pygmalion (Dover, 1994). In the play that inspired My Fair Lady, Shaw portrays the education of a flower girl in upper-class speech and manners.

Smith, E.E. Galactic Patrol (One Earth Books, 2014). Midway through his early adventures, Lensman Kimball Kinnison returns to Arisia for advanced training by an alien superintelligence.

Vinge, Vernor. Rainbows End (Tor, 2007). In this near-future science-fiction novel, both virtual-reality-based high school education and technologically accelerated learning are crucial to the plot.

Walton, Jo. The Just City (Tor, 2015). The goddess Athene attempts to found a city based on Plato's Republic and to educate several thousand children as its future citizens – only to have Socrates disrupt her plans!

White, T.H. The Sword in the Stone (Philomel Books, 1993). The wizard Merlin uses his magical abilities to tutor a young boy called "the Wart."


Batman Begins (Christopher Nolan, 2005). Bruce Wayne's preparation for a career as a superhero is a good example of becoming Trained by a Master.

Belles of St. Trinian's, The (Frank Launder, 1954, DVD is non-US region). A comedic reversal of morally uplifting school stories: The St. Trinian's girls' main pursuits are crime, vice, and cunning schemes for making money.

Divergent (Neil Burger, 2014). A major element of this young-adult dystopia is the heroine's training as a warrior while she conceals her potential fitness for multiple roles.

Hanna (Joe Wright, 2011). A "rite of passage" story about a girl genetically engineered as a super-soldier, and trained since age two as a spy and assassin.

Léon: The Professional (Luc Besson, 1994). The title character, a hitman, takes in the young daughter of a murdered couple and teaches her his trade.

Mask of Zorro, The (Martin Campbell, 1998). Great training sequences between the original Zorro, Don Diego de la Vega, and his chosen successor, Alejandro Murrieta.

X-Men: First Class (Matthew Vaughn, 2011). A film treatment of the founding of the prototype school for super-powered heroes.

Television Series

Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Joss Whedon, 1997-2003). An important focus of this series is the relationship between Buffy and her mentor and trainer, Rupert Giles. Also notable for the high-school setting of the first three seasons.

Gakuen Alice (Takahiro Omori, 2004-2005). An anime treatment of a school for the super-powered – and of its tensions and secrets.

Girls und Panzer (Tsutomu Mizushima, 2012-2013). An unusual school sports story: Miho Nishizumi becomes the leader of a girls' school team for sensha-do (the art and sport of tank warfare).

Glee (Ryan Murphy, Brad Falchuk, and Ian Brennan, 2009-2015). A hybrid of musical comedy and soap opera, focused on a struggling high-school vocal group and its teacher.

Kung Fu (Ed Spielman, Jerry Thorpe, and Herman Miller, 1972-1975). The original martial-arts Western series. Nearly every episode has scenes of its hero as a boy studying at the Shaolin temple.

Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, The (Tatsuya Ishihara, 2006 and 2009). A comedy set in an ordinary high school with a club whose members nearly all have extraordinary abilities.

Revolutionary Girl Utena (Kunihiko Ikihara, 1997). A magical-girl drama whose protagonist must fight a series of sword duels with other students at Ohtori Academy to realize her destiny.

Comics and Graphic Novels

Foglio, Phil and Kaja. Girl Genius (Studio Foglio, 2001-present). A young woman studying at a steampunk university gets drawn into wild mad-science adventures.

Robinson, Jimmie. Five Weapons (Image Comics, 2013-2014). A whimsical storyline about a young outsider enrolled at a boarding school for assassins.

Whedon, Joss. Astonishing X-Men (Marvel Comics, 2004-2008). A new exploration of the classic school-based team and the relationships between its students and teachers.

Williams, Aaron. PS238 (Dork Storm Press, 2003-2006; Do Gooder Press, 2007-present). Collected volumes of an ongoing webcomic about an unusual school for supers – not a high school or college, but an elementary school. Good characterization and an excellent portrayal of the central character's relationship with his adult mentor.


Chart, David. Ars Magica, Fifth Edition (Atlas Games, 2004). The quintessential academic RPG (originally created by Jonathan Tweet and Mark Rein•Hagen), where the academics are scholarly wizards pursuing advanced research and sending their apprentices to collect arcane materials.

Johnson, Sam. Miskatonic University (Chaosium, 2005). A Call of Cthulhu supplement with all the details on H.P. Lovecraft's fictional New England university.

Long, Steven S. and Williams, Aaron. PS238 – The Roleplaying Game (Hero Games, 2008). A version of Champions custom fitted to roleplaying in the elementary school for supers.

McCoy, Elizabeth and Milliken, Walter. GURPS IOU (Steve Jackson Games, 2000). A classic GURPS supplement. Students at many fictional universities accidentally learn of Things Man Was Not Meant To Know – but at IOU, they're a required course!

Peregrine, Andrew. Hellcats and Hockeysticks (Cubicle 7 Entertainment, 2010). If you enjoy St. Trinian's, this is the RPG for you.

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