Hands-on and Close-up Fun: Penguicon 7.0

Geek Culture

My daughter and I are making a note here: Penguicon 7.0 weekend road trip = Huge Success. We’re definitely planning on attending again, and I’d encourage other GeekDads and GeekMoms to give it a good look, particularly those who have kids in their late-preteen years and up, when finding common entertainment ground can be tough.


Mixing up some liquid nitrogen ice cream. (photo by John Booth)

For example, while there weren’t any Penguicon offerings geared specifically toward kids, there were more than enough things to keep both of us entertained. My daughter’s “must-do” list included the knife-throwing and bare-handed board-breaking clinics, and she was permitted to participate with my presence and consent. We learned to play Munchkin. And I was happy to take her to a Harry Potter discussion, a “mix-these-and-watch-this” chemistry demonstration and the Open Soda-making class, all of which we both enjoyed. (Here are the pictures I’ve posted in the GeekDad group at Flickr.)

Maybe the neatest surprise for me was how much she liked attending some of the panels that were on my “to do” list, simply because the participants – authors Jim C. Hines and Mary Robinette Kowal come to mind – turned out to be so engaging and entertaining.

Friday and Saturday nights, the atmosphere did turn a little more toward the PG-13 side as some of the more revealing costumes hit the hallways, but there was nothing more blush-worthy than you’d see at a Star Wars fest loaded with Slave Leias. And while there was beer offered in the convention’s hospitality suite and a floor or two devoted to room parties – that I don’t know how many floors may be a testament to Penguicon’s effective self-policing – we never ran into any rowdy or obnoxious con-goers.

It was a good size for a convention, too. With around 1,100 people there, most of them for the entire weekend, although there were some panels and performances which should have been held in bigger rooms, we never got caught in a crowd crush or found ourselves parked in line for hours at a time. And it made for the good possibility of running into and chatting with a favorite writer or programmer. (After quietly meeting John Scalzi, my daughter turned to me as we walked toward our room and broke into a huge grin: “That was so cool.”)

Two flightless vestigial wings up.

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