Penguicon

Are you into science fiction writing? Science Fiction in general? Or open source computing? Well then, Michigan has an event for you, known as Penguicon!

History

The convention is a yearly event held somewhere in southeast Michigan. This year the event took place on April 30- May 2, 2010 at the Marriot in Troy. The first Penguicon convention was held in 2003. The attendance has grown each year prompting the coordinators to move several times to larger hotel venues in places such as Novi, Romulus, Livonia, and Troy.

About the Event

From what I’ve been told Penguicon has a unique Consuite.  As long as you are a registered attendee (don’t forget to wear your badge!) the Consuite is free and full of food, soda, water, and beer (ID’s are checked).  You really don’t need to pay for food as long as you can find something to your liking, although this year I did not partake of the free food as much as in 2009.  The Consuite in 2009 was located in main lobby area and this year it was on the 12th floor.  You can imagine the line for the elevator.  The Consuite in 2009 was wonderfully convenient, but they continuously ran out of food, which may be why it was moved.

The convention organizers book the entire hotel for the weekend.  In 2009 they sold out the rooms; I haven’t heard anything about the 2010 convention yet.  All I know is that I booked my room in October.  There are designated party and quiet floors; I believe attendees are automatically put on a quiet floor unless they contact the designation hotel coordinator to request the party floor.

Volunteers are especially needed for the event and can “earn back” their registration fees by volunteering for a specific number of hours.  A place is also provided for volunteers to “crash” for the night.  So, if you are strapped for cash, volunteering is the best option as long as you don’t mind sleeping on the floor with a bunch of strangers.  This sounds like fun at 22, but not in my opinion at 36.

Penguicon is not what I’d consider “family-friendly”, although there were some small children being carted around by one parent while the other attended sessions and small herds of teenagers roaming the hotel.  Be advised that costumes are common, some rather skimpy.  If you like “people-watching”, there is plenty to be had at this event.  Many of the attendees wear costumes; there are small enclaves of “Furries”, “Steam Punks”, “Storm Troopers”, and of course “Tron Guy”.  Last year Steam Punk was the big thing (from my observations) and I was told the year before there was a large Pirate contingent.

Personal experience

The 2010 Penguicon was my second year attending the convention and I loved it just as much as my first experience but in a different way.  Last year was a bit overwhelming for me and I got caught up in the excitement of the first night by staying up late and attending as many of the room parties as I could.  The next day, (the only full day), I missed several sessions that I wanted to attend by sleeping in and napping.  This year I took a decidedly different approach and went to bed the first night at a reasonable hour.  I spent most of my time this year attending sessions, rather than focusing on gaming or partying.

This year’s convention had even more interesting sessions than last year and it was difficult to decide what to attend when each hour had multiple sessions of interest.  At least I wasn’t asleep in my room this time!

I ended up attending several sessions on the “writing”, “Linux”, and “Science Fiction” tracks.  I learned about Time Travel, Creating Podcasts, How I can Contribute to Open Source without Programming, and many other interesting things.  There are actually several more tracks such as “Anime”, “Gaming”, “Life”, “Music”, “Webcomics”, and much more.

Conclusion

This is my only foray into the world of science fiction conventions, much to my dismay, so I am not able to make comparisons to other conventions in Michigan or otherwise.  Penguicon is very informative and enjoyable and I am looking forward to October when I make my reservations and register for Penguicon in 2011.

For more information visit their Website: http://www.penguicon.org/

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