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. 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.

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

  4. I wouldn’t worry to much about being summoned, except for us no one reads the bio’s. Well done though, I would reuse it often.

  5. changterhune – Before you hear lies from Chang Terhune himself, we thought we’d tell you the truth: without us, his old action figures, he’d be nowhere. He loved science fiction from way back and began reading it at an early age, but it was through us that he acted it all out. That’s what led to the writing. He watched a lot of science fiction shows like Star Trek, U.F.O, and movies, too. But we were always there to do his bidding. And it’s like they say: you always forget about the little people on your way up. Oh, the 70’s and early 80’s with him were good times! He’d use these blocks and make all the crazy buildings for us to be in his stories. I gotta say the kid’s imagination was pretty damn fertile. Oh, he had friends, but they just weren’t into it like him. He was like the Lance Armstrong of action figures. And of science fiction. At first, when he began writing in the eighth grade, we didn’t mind. He still made time for us. And we knew that when he was holding us in his sweaty little hands and he got that far off look in his eye, he’d come back to burying us in the back yard or - god forbid! – blowing us up with firecrackers. But it was worth it for a part in one of those stories. We loved him for it. He kept us around even when we were minus a leg or two - or even a head. In that mind of his, he found a use for all of us. Then he discovered girls. October, 1986. It was like the end of the world. One day we’re standing in the middle of this building block creation he’d pretended was some marble city on a planet near Alpha Centauri and the next we were stuck in a box in the closet. Not even a “See ya later!” Nope, it was into the closet, then we heard some high-pitched girly-giggles then silence. We didn’t see him for years. We got word about him once in a while. Heard he took up writing, but it was crap like “The Breakfast Club” only with better music. We couldn’t believe it. Not Charlie. What happened to those aliens with heads he’d sculpted out of wax? Spaceships? Those complex plots? All gone. For what? You guessed it: Girls. Emotions. “Serious fiction.” I tell you, it was like hearing Elvis had left the building. During our two decade exile in the closet, we heard other things about him. He went to college. He wrote a lot, but not much he really liked. We knew it even then. It was like he didn’t dare write science fiction. Some of us had lost hope and just lay there. Others kept vigil, hoping for a day we didn’t dare speak about. Then we heard he’d stopped writing in 1996. Did he come to reclaim us? No. He took up music for ten years or so. He took up yoga. Once in a while, he’d visit us in the closet. But it was half-hearted. His mind was elsewhere. Then one day, he really did come back for us. One second we’re in the dark and the next thing we know we’re in a car headed for Massachusetts. Suddenly we got a whole shelf to ourselves out in broad daylight! Then he bought a bunch of others form some planet called Ebay. He’d just sit and stare at us with that old look. But why were we suddenly back in the picture? He had a wife now, who didn’t mind that he played with us. So what had happened? Turns out he’d never forgotten about those stories. He’d been thinking about all of us and the stories he’d made up and then remembered he’d been a writer once. From the shelf we could see him typing away. Before long he’s got a whole novel together! Then he’s working on another one. Word is there are two more in the planning stages! Some short stories, too! It’s good to see him using his imagination again. Its good to know he never abandoned us. He returned to his true love of science fiction. We hear the stories are pretty good. Someday we’ll get one of the cats to score us a copy of the manuscript. Man, it’s good to be out of the damn closet! --- I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me I'm smarter than you I'm harder than you I'm better than you I'm just raw I'm hotter than you More popular than you More clever than you And goshdarn it, people like me


    Reminds me I need to get a bocce set of my own.

  6. CRash – Fledgling writer still trying to figure out how to properly flap those wings. Occasionally I draw things.

    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. 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.

  8. 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

  9. Loved the Scott Lynch one, but #7 is a blatant rip-off of the movie Dodgeball. But then again, you said that you were lazy. :)

  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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