And Now, My Penguicon Guest of Honor Bio

As many of you know, this last weekend I was Guest of Honor at Penguicon, the open source and science fiction convention, held this year in Dearborn. I was asked for a bio to put in the convention’s program guide, and at this point you may imagine I am deadly bored of writing bios for myself. So I decided to do something silly. So below, please find the bio I wrote for the Penguicon program book. You may be amused.

Future conventions, please note: I do not intend to put forth this much effort every time I am Guest of Honor. I really am lazy.


John Scalzi is your Guest of Honor this year. He’s the New York Times best selling author of eight science fiction novels, winner of two Hugos and the proprietor of Whatever, one of the longest running and most popular personal blogs on the Internet. But you can find out any of that information by looking through Google and Wikipedia. What don’t you know about John Scalzi? Here is an exclusive list of facts you won’t find anywhere else but here.


1. The word “Scalzi” means “barefoot” in Italian. But it also means “lightly salted” in Czech, “full of mucus” in Romanian, and “unspeakably gifted in the erotic arts” in Catalan. Scalzi himself often wears shoes, has clear nasal passages and is rarely to be found in a salted state, lightly or otherwise. He does not, however, contest the Catalan definition.

2. Scalzi, a precocious lad, wrote his first short story at the tender age of two, a story about how the moon had gotten unusually bright, heralding the end of the world. Coincidentally Larry Niven published the Hugo-winning short story “Inconstant Moon” that same year, with exactly the same theme. This occasioned the toddler Scalzi challenging Mr. Niven to a duel at LACon I, which Mr. Niven, unable to understand the soft-palate pronunciation of Scalzi, did not accept. The challenge remains unaccepted to this day, leading to a life-long enmity between the two men, much to the confusion of Mr. Niven.

3. The members of the Scalzi clan are known for their flowing, Fabio-like manes of hair, yet Scalzi himself gives every appearance of being short-haired and balding. How can this be? The answer is that at the age of fifteen, Scalzi selflessly and courageously donated 80% of his scalp to an unfortunate child who was tragically born without follicles. After a sixteen hour operation involving three teams of doctors, the hair transfer was successful, and the child went on to a full recovery. That child is Scott Lynch.

4. Scalzi was a world-class bocce player, tipped as “the next Umberto Granaglia” by both Sports Illustrated and Bocce Monthly, but abruptly left the sport while still an amateur competitor. When contacted by ESPN about his departure, Scalzi said only, “it used to be about the game, man,” and would give no further comment. He has not picked up a bocce ball since.

5. Scalzi was born with three nostrils. The third nostril is not on his nose. It’s still somewhere on his body. However, contrary to rumor, Scalzi does not give out prizes if you can guess where it is.

6. In 1989, Scalzi found the Rainbow Connection, but his attempts to notify the Muppets of the discovery have been fruitless. Scalzi has said that he will not reveal its location to anyone but Kermit, but notes there is already a Starbucks there.

7. Scalzi is a master of the following things: Stealth, surprise, disguise, deception, kung fu, puppets, large herbivores, cupcakes, the letter “e,” stealth, and redundancy.

8. Scalzi invented the term “Ninja” in 1998, then invented a time machine and went to the Sengoku period of Japanese history to give the idea to a group of spies who were ambitious but lacked marketing skills. He was paid a pound of gold for idea, which he then placed in a bank to earn compound interest, and then came back to the present. He is now the richest man in the history of the world, with a net worth of sixty quadrillion dollars.

9. No, Scalzi will not buy you a drink. He’s got to save those sixty quadrillion dollars for when he really needs them.

10. If you say Scalzi’s name three times, he is likely to appear somewhere near you. Because, hey, he’s the Guest of Honor at this convention. It’s not like he’s going to be hard to find.

30 Comments on “And Now, My Penguicon Guest of Honor Bio”

  1. I must admit that I haven’t finished all of The Rough Guide to Money Online, but I believe that simple interest and compound interest are two different things.

    Now that everybody knows how to summon you, you’re not going to get a lot of work done.

    At least now Larry Niven will know why you want to beat him at Mystic Warlords of Ka’a.

  2. Re 2:

    True or False – George once used Larry Niven as a blast shield at an indoors rocket engine test.

  3. Typo in the “ninja” entry – I think you left out a “but” as in “but lacked marketing skills”.

  4. For something you likely dashed off in a few minutes because the organizers “needed something” I think you’ve now got something that can go on the back page cover blurb of everything you write from here on in.

    If they refuse to get the joke it’s their problem.

  5. Why did the Japanese give you a pound of gold instead of using a traditional unit of weight like a hyakume or kin?

  6. I refuse to believe Scalzi is the master of the letter “e.” Look at his name. THERE ARE NO “E”S.

    (And no, middle names do not count.)

  7. We speak Catalan in the balearic islands. I confirm the meaning of “scalzi” in our language.

  8. Generally, I avoid reading a bio, unless I don’t know anything about the person. I noticed this one in the convention program and thought it was great.

  9. I could not find by Googling, so attempt to approximately re-create from memory something related to his standing in the Science Fiction community, while being scion of the Doheny family, who drilled the first oil well in California. There have been a couple of equally rich SF/Fantasy novelists, such as John Jacob Astor IV (who died when the Titanic went down), and Edward John Moreton Drax Plunkett, 18th Baron of Dunsany [24 July 1878 – 25 October 1957] who was an Irish writer and dramatist, notable for his work, mostly in fantasy, and was chess and pistol-shooting champion of Ireland:

    Larry Niven
    will never be forgiven
    for being healthy
    and absurdly wealthy

  10. I made the mistake of drinking while reading that in the program book. You are responsible for the splattered Coke on my program book!

  11. I have not laughed this hard in years. In fact, I think I was eight the last time I laughed to this extreme, causing cramping abdominal pain and my husband to question whether to call the police. You, sir, are a GENIUS.

  12. I’m from Barcelona myself. Catalan is my mother-tongue, but I never heard of such a word referring that meaning. Could Mankel or mr. Scalzi clarify me or point me to the definition of such a word somewhere?
    I’m confused, I I would appreciate very much enlightenment on this matter.

  13. Perhaps you should change that fictional Catalan translation to “unspeakably gifted in the subtle comedic arts”. :)

  14. Enric: desfortunadament, tots les traducciós són solament acudits. Mankel també feia broma.

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