From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Tux visits the Penguicon Consuite
GenreScience fiction/Linux User Group
VenueWestin Southfield Hotel, Southfield, MI (since 2014)
Location(s)Southeastern Michigan
CountryUnited States
Attendance1550 (2016)[1]
Organized byPenguicon Staff
Filing statusNon-profit

Penguicon is a convention in southeastern Michigan designed originally to mix the communities of the science fiction fandom and Linux user groups.[2] In addition to educational panels on science fiction in the media, attendees participate in professional and beginner-level panels on Linux and open-source software. Penguicon takes its name both from a Monty Python sketch and from Tux, the penguin mascot of Linux.[3]

Penguicon is held in the spring in the Detroit, Michigan metropolitan area. The venue, a hotel, has changed from year to year, but since 2014 the event has been held at the Westin Southfield Hotel in Southfield, Michigan.[4]

Since its founding, Penguicon has expanded its focus to include panels and events for foodies, cosplay, filk music (the folk music of science fiction fandom), gaming, and makerspaces.[5] Penguicon has been described as a place where "hackers, makers, foodies, open source software junkies, anime buffs, and science fiction fans of all ages and backgrounds come together in a hotel for a weekend and totally blow the roof off."[6]

Along with the panels, the convention has hosted Artemis spaceship bridge simulations, biohacking presentations, retrogaming rooms, and a life-size Operation game board.[7]

Working alongside local makerspaces i3Detroit and All Hands Active, Penguicon has offered instruction in learning to solder electronic components, which allowed attendees to create their own LED badges.[8]

Over a thousand participants have attended past conventions, which have featured Guests of Honor from Neil Gaiman[9] and John Scalzi[10] to Jon "maddog" Hall and Eric S. Raymond.[11]

Recent events[edit]

For the 2014 convention, the Penguicon tech track's focus was on privacy and cryptography.[12] Guests of Honor included Ernie Cline, author of Ready Player One; and Eva Galperin of the Electronic Frontier Foundation.[12][13]


Penguicon was listed as a Guardian of Wildlife at the Detroit Zoo in 2013 for donating to symbolically adopt a penguin.[14]

In 2013, Penguicon listed the New Beginnings Animal Rescue as their official charity, and Penguicon members donated $700 and 123 pounds of food during the convention weekend.[15]

Penguicon was also a sponsor of MHacks III, a weekend-long hackathon held in Detroit in January 2014.[16]

The organization Enabling the Future, which constructs 3D printed prosthetic hands for those in need, was Penguicon's 2015 Hack of Honor[17] and official sponsored charity.[18] Along with collecting donations, Penguicon worked with Enabling the Future and community members to 3D print limbs leading up to and during the 2015 convention.[19]

Featured guests[edit]

Every year, Penguicon invites a dozen or more people (authors, hackers, and entertainers) who are not full Guests of Honor, but are celebrities in their own right, and calls them Featured Guests (formerly "Nifty Guests"). They also invite former Guests of Honor as "Guest of Honor Emeritus". In 2010, this included author Jim C. Hines, musician Tom Smith, and open source advocate Eric S. Raymond.[20]

Wil Wheaton's cancellations[edit]

Penguicon has invited Wil Wheaton as a guest of honor multiple times, but he has had to cancel each time. In 2009, Wheaton had to cancel the morning of the convention and wrote an apology letter which was read aloud at Opening Ceremonies.[21]

Tron Guy[edit]

Jay Maynard debuted his self-made electroluminescent Tron Guy costume at Penguicon in 2004.[22] After submitting photos of himself to Slashdot, he appeared in costume on Jimmy Kimmel Live.[23] He has also been on America's Got Talent and a commercial for Duck Brand duct tape. Maynard says he "hasn't missed a Penguicon, and doesn't intend to."[24]

List of Guests of Honor[edit]

Year Guests of Honor

Mark Oshiro, Johnny Xmas, Dr. Kristine Larsen, Christine Sunu, Mary Anne Mohanraj (Writing Excuses)[25]


Ada Palmer,[26] Cory Doctorow,[27] Sumana Harihareswara,[28] Coraline Ada Ehmke (cancelled),[29] Kevin MacLeod,[30] Tommy Edison and Ben Churchill (Blind Film Critic),[31] The Tricorder Project (Hack of Honor)[32]

2016 Ann Leckie, Sirius (Profs. Lingjia Tang and Jason Mars), Greg Gage, Catherynne M. Valente, Deb Nicholson, Ann Lemay[11]
2015 Albert Manero, Charlie Jane Anders, Annalee Newitz, Aral Balkan, Enabling the Future (Hack of Honor)[11][18]
2014 Ernest Cline, YTCracker, Eva Galperin (Electronic Frontier Foundation), Erika Carlson (Girl Develop It Detroit founder), GameFace Labs (Hack of Honor)[11][13]
2013 Jason Denzel, Jim C. Hines, Jeff Potter, Maik Schmidt, Michael W. Lucas, Nick Farr[11]
2012 John Scalzi,[10] Jim Gettys, Scrub Club Records, Open Soda (Hack of Honor)[11]
2011 MC Frontalot, Brandon Sanderson, Jimmie P. Rogers, Howard Tayler[11]
2010 Joe Brockmeier, Marcel Gagné, Karl Schroeder, Spider Robinson (cancelled), Jeanne Robinson (cancelled), Howard Tayler, i3Detroit (Hack of Honor)[11]
2009 Rasmus Lerdorf, Jon "maddog" Hall, Andrew Hackard, Jane McGonigal, Wil Wheaton (cancelled),[21] CandyFab[11]
2008 Benjamin Mako Hill, Jono Bacon, Vernor Vinge, Tamora Pierce, Randall Munroe, Keith Baker, Zeusaphone[11]
2007 Bruce Schneier, Charlie Stross, Elizabeth Bear, Christine Peterson, Steve Jackson, Randy Milholland[11]
2006 Chris DiBona, Frank Hayes, Steve Miller, Sharon Lee, Andy Looney, Kristin Looney, Alison "Looney" Frane (Looney Labs)[11]
2005 Nat Torkington, Dr. Peter Salus, Cory Doctorow, Joan D. Vinge, Rod Roddenberry, Kevin Siembieda, Wil Wheaton (cancelled)[11]
2004 Jeff "Hemos" Bates, Jon "maddog" Hall, Neil Gaiman,[9] Steve Jackson, Wil Wheaton (cancelled)[11]
2003 Eric S. Raymond, Rob "CmdrTaco" Malda, Terry Pratchett, J. D. Frazer, Pete Abrams[11]

In the media[edit]

A Science Channel show, Outrageous Acts of Science, replayed a video from Penguicon 2006[33] in which Nifty Guest Howard Tayler recorded attendees dumping the remains of a dewar of liquid nitrogen into the hotel swimming pool.[34] In 2010, Howard Tayler returned to Penguicon as a Guest of Honor and hosted a second video involving liquid nitrogen and the hotel swimming pool.[35]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Penguicon 2016 Wrap-up". Penguicon. 8 May 2016. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  2. ^ Landley, Rob (6 October 2009). "History of Penguicon, from one of the co-founders, Part I". The Conversation Pit. Archived from the original on 19 August 2011. Retrieved 19 August 2011.
  3. ^ "FAQ". Penguicon 2018. Penguicon. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  4. ^ "Penguicon Venues". Penguicon. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  5. ^ Sands, David (26 April 2012). "Penguicon Convention 2012 Mixes Science Fiction, Linux, And DIY Exploration". HuffPost. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  6. ^ Phillips, David (11 February 2015). "Episode 78: Penguicon, Bebop Art, Kosmic Kasey". IT in the D. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  7. ^ Hall, Christina (30 April 2016). "Penguicon convention full of science fiction fans". Detroit Free Press. USA Today Network. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  8. ^ Worman (5 May 2016). "Thanks Penguicon!". All Hands Active. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  9. ^ a b Gaiman, Neil (15 May 2004). "If this is Saturday it must be... where the hell am I anyway?". Neil Gaiman's Journal. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  10. ^ a b Scalzi, John (29 April 2012). "And Now, My Penguicon Guest of Honor Bio". Whatever. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  11. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o "Previous Events". Penguicon 2018. Penguicon. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  12. ^ a b Doctorow, Cory (25 March 2014). "Michigan's Penguicon will focus on crypto and privacy this year". BoingBoing. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  13. ^ a b Suehle, Ruth (2 April 2014). "Gamers, makers, and sci-fi fans unite! at Penguicon 2014". Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  14. ^ "ADOPTS Honor Roll". The Detroit Zoo. Archived from the original on 15 August 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  15. ^ "New Beginnings Animal Rescue". Facebook. 28 April 2013. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  16. ^ "MHacks III". Hackathon Watch. Archived from the original on 1 April 2014. Retrieved 10 February 2018.
  17. ^ "Charity Organization for 2015". Penguicon. 2 October 2014. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  18. ^ a b Sonoras, Steven (23 April 2015). "Sci-fi meets open source at annual Penguicon nerdfest". The Detroit News. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  19. ^ Staes, JA (24 March 2015). "Have A 3D Printer? You Can Help A Child Get A Hand This Spring". Daily Detroit. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  20. ^ "Nifty Guests". Penguicon. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  21. ^ a b Wheaton, Wil (1 May 2009). "To Everyone at Penguicon". WWdN: In Exile. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  22. ^ Being Tron Guy Archived 2012-11-22 at the Wayback Machine, Minneapolis City Pages
  23. ^ Memes Pwn The Web: What Lolcats, Tron Guy, and Doge Tell Us About Ourselves and the Future of Humanity,
  24. ^ What is Penguicon?, YouTube Video
  25. ^ "Special Guests". Penguicon 2018. Penguicon. 4 April 2017. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  26. ^ "Guest of Honor Ada Palmer". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  27. ^ "Guest of Honor Cory Doctorow". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  28. ^ "Guest of Honor Sumana Harihareswara". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  29. ^ "Guest of Honor Coraline Ada Ehmke". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  30. ^ "Guest of Honor Kevin MacLeod". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  31. ^ "Guests of Honor Tommy Edison and Ben Churchill". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  32. ^ "Hack of Honor: The Tricorder Project". Penguicon 2017. Penguicon. Retrieved 19 February 2018.
  33. ^ Liquid Nitrogen Into A Swimming Pool, YouTube
  34. ^ Outrageous Acts of Science - Power Junkies, Science Channel (via YouTube)
  35. ^ Liquid Nitrogen in the pool at Penguicon 2010, YouTube

External links[edit]