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About Our Guests


Tech GoH- Chris DiBona: Google's Open Source Program Director

Filk Music GoH- Frank Hayes: Filker Extraordinaire, Tech Columnist for Computerworld

Gaming GoHs- Andy Looney, Kristin Looney, Alison Looney: Fluxx, Icehouse, Are You A Werewolf

Author GoHs- Steve Miller and Sharon Lee: Liaden Universe Novels

Nifty Guests:
John Scalzi, Karl Schroeder, Luke Ski, Tom Smith, Eric Raymond, Howard Tayler, Rob Balder, Cathy Raymond, Will and William Neibling, Clif Flynt, The Ferrett, Eric Milliken, Sarah Zettel,  Michael Z. Williamson

Tech Guest

Chris DiBona

Chris DiBona is the Open Source Programs Manager for Mountain View, CA based Google, Inc. His job includes releasing open source software on Google's Code website, which can be found at

Before joining Google, Mr. DiBona co-founded and wrote the fiction for a game company (now defunct) and was an editor/author for the popular online website He is an internationally-known advocate of open source software and related methodologies and co-edited the award winning essay compilations "Open Sources" and "Open Sources 2.0". He was briefly the Linux guy on TechTV and speaks on a variety of open source issues internationally.

Filk Guest

Frank Hayes

Frank Hayes is a tech columnist for Computerworld, a long-time associate of Dorsai Irregulars,  and a prominent filk musician. A three-time Pegasus winner and ten-time Pegasus nominee, his songs "Never Set the Cat on Fire", "Cosmos," (which was played for the astronauts during a shuttle mission) and "The Grandfather Clock" have become standards of the genre. Filk will be really big at Penguicon this year! Frank is also the editor of Computerworld's Shark Tank ("true tales of IT life"), and his first version of Linux was 0.9, sometime around 1993.

Author Guests

Sharon Lee & Steve Miller

Sharon Lee and Steve Miller are co-authors of the best-selling Liaden Universe® series and have been writing together since the "Kinzel" stories hit Fantasy Book in the early 80s. They began work on the first Liaden story in 1984 and have published 8 novels and several dozen short works in that series alone. They count Meisha Merlin, Ace Books, Buzzy Multimedia, and Embiid among their English language publishers and have several foreign language publishers as well.
Their short fiction, written both jointly and singly, has appeared in Absolute Magnitude, Catfantastic, Dreams of Decadence, Fantasy Book, Such a Pretty Face, 3SF, and several incarnations of Amazing, in 2005. Their work has enjoyed a number of award nominations, with "Scout's Progress" being selected for the Prism Award for Best Futuristic Romance of 2001 and "Local Custom" finishing second for the same award. "Local Custom" has been optioned to Buzzy Multimedia for publication as an audio book in the next year.

"Balance of Trade," their most recent novel, appeared in hardcover in February 2004 and hit genre bestseller lists; Low Port, an anthology they edited for Meisha Merlin, appeared to acclaim in late August of last year.

Gaming Guests

We're excited to announce that the genius game designers, activists, and former NASA programmers from Looney Labs have accepted our invitation to be Gaming Guests of Honor for Penguicon 4.0!

At every past Penguicon the fan promoters, or "Mad Lab Rabbits" as we are called (some of whom are even on the Penguicon concom), have been seen in the gaming room teaching the ingenious game designs of this colorful little hippie game company. "Are You A Werewolf?", published by Looney Labs, is always a popular Penguicon event. Looney Labs will be out in force at Penguicon 2006!

Bringing together the creative genius of Andrew Looney, the business and marketing savvy of Kristin Looney, and the artistic craft of Alison Looney, Looney Labs games are noted in their industry for being unique and creative. Their games often have educational value without ever feeling like they are trying to teach, and are great fun for everyone in the family - not just those who consider themselves to be gamers. In a culture of competition and victory, this small, fun-loving company offers games that are light-hearted, colorful and accessible to all. Playing a Looney Labs game leave everyone saying, "Let's play again!"

Looney Labs games have won numerous awards (including two Mensa Select awards) and have a loyal fan base, officially known as the Mad Lab Rabbits. The Mad Lab Rabbits are enthusiastic fans, who love to spread the fun of Looney Labs games, doing things as simple as showing them to their friends and family, or as elaborate as organizing large events at conventions and game stores. There are thousands of 'Rabbits' across North America and the world. Each summer, the Rabbits gather in Columbus Ohio at "The Big Experiment" as part of the Origins Game Fair, to compete in tournaments and hang out with the Looneys in person. It is this community of friends and fans that have helped make this company what it is today. You can find local Rabbits at

Looney Labs see themselves as a bunch of friendly, progressive, patriotic hippies. As children of the sixties, the Looneys have embraced the positive values espoused by the hippies - including the principles of peace, love, and brotherhood, the importance of ecological responsibility, and a taste for bright colors and tie-dyes. At "That Hippie Game Company," they also believe that being a hippie means being a non-conformist and deciding for oneself what it means to be a hippie. As patriots, the Looneys passionately defend Free Speech and actively encourage political awareness. They also believe in supporting their community by striving to use only domestically manufactured materials in their games and publications.

Andy Looney

Andy is a former NASA engineer (whose software has been used in space) who now lives his dream of inventing cool stuff for a living. He is the company's chief designer and is the creator of most of their products, including, among others, Fluxx, Chrononauts, Aquarius, Nanofictionary, and the Icehouse game system. Andy is also a writer, a photographer, and a cartoonist; he writes and illustrates a weekly column about his life and the goings-on of Looney Labs, which is published on Thursdays at Andy is a night owl who loves cats, cartoons and chocolate, and he's an outspoken critic of marijuana prohibition.

Kristin Looney

Kristin spent her first 15 years after college working as an Electronics Engineer at NASA and an IT Manager in the aerospace industry - while running a little part-time game business on the side in her spare time. In early 1999 she jumped off the cliff, leaving he day job behind to work full-time running and growing Looney Labs. The games of Looney Labs are available worldwide, in large part due to Kristin's business and marketing savvy. Kristin fosters the large community of 'Mad Lab Rabbits', who are spreading the word of Looney Labs far and wide. Kristin's earliest claim to fame came at age 16 when she solved a Rubik's Cube in 35.50 seconds on That's Incredible, and her enthusiasm for puzzles and games is still going strong.

Alison "Looney" Frane

Alison came to Looney Labs from the improbable fields of art and horticulture. Her interest in the natural world led her to develop the recent EcoFluxx variant, and her artistic talents enabled her to do all the artwork, too. At Looney Labs, Alison stays mostly behind the scenes, acting as a sort of jack-of-all-trades, helping out where she is most needed. She divides her time between art and design work, inventory management, and making calls as part of the sales team. She is into plants, words, arts & crafts, and good nutrition.

Additional: Nifty Guests

John Scalzi

John Scalzi is the author of the science fiction novels Agent To The Stars, Old Man's War and The Ghost Brigades. His "The Whatever" blog gets about ten to twenty thousand unique visitors a day. One of his blog entries, "Being Poor," was picked up by several newspapers around the country, and another one, "The 10 Least Successful Holiday Specials of All Time," was picked up by John is also an exceptional conversationalist. John was a panelist in 2005 and was so good at it we are having him return as a Nifty Guest. Quoth Scalzi: "I feel all shiny now."

Karl Schroeder -- Karl is the author of Permanence, The Engine Of Recall, New York Times Notable Book Ventus, and the Sci-Fi Essential Book Lady Of Mazes. His novels offer a lot to chew on after you put them down. This is the literature of ideas.
At the same time, Karl Schroeder is concerned with making his hard-science fiction novels accessable and marketable to fans of non-science fiction, such as fantasy and adventure. Don't be deceived by appearances in the first few chapters of, for instance, Ventus-- it's a very clever disguise for a hard science fiction feast. He will probably go a long way to whet more appetites for hard SF who otherwise would not have read it.
Karl also is a technology professional. We look forward to hearing from Karl at Penguicon on such topics as the emergence of the internet as a layer on the physical world, busting the metaphor of the brain as a computer, and technology as legislation.

Luke Ski -- "the great Luke Ski", otherwise known as Luke Sienkowski, writes, records and performs comedy music on a variety of pop culture subjects ranging from Lord of the Rings and Star Wars to Spider-Man and Keanu Reeves. Luke has enjoyed repeated success on “the Dr Demento Show”, by taking top honors with the #1 most requested songs of both 2002 (“Peter Parker”) and 2003 (“Stealing Like a Hobbit”), making him the first artist in 20 years to have the #1 song for two years in a row, as well as garnering him the position of “Dr. Demento’s Most Requested Artist of the 21st Century”. Luke’s music has also been heard on ManCow’s Morning Madhouse and various college and morning shows across the country. Since 1996, Luke has released 5 albums, Fanboys ‘n da Hood (1996), Shadows of the Bunghole (1997), Carpe Dementia (1999), Uber Geek (2002), and Worst Album Ever (2003). His sixth album, “Unconventional” will be released in the summer of 2005.
Luke Ski’s hilarious use of props and costumes while performing his parodies have made him a fan favorite at many Science Fiction and Gaming Conventions, including GenCon Indy and Star Wars Celebration (Indianapolis), GenCon SoCal (Anaheim), Dragon*Con (Atlanta), MarCon and Origins (Columbus), MarsCon and ConVergence (Minneapolis), WindyCon, CapriCon, DucKon, 2BCon-Tinued, and HalloweeM (Chicago), Odyssey Con and FilmCon (Madison), Archon (St. Louis), PenguiCon (Detroit), TolCon (Seattle), Gamefest (Milwaukee), Uny-Con (Rochester), FarPoint (Baltimore), ConGlomeration (Louisville), and BashCon (Toledo). Luke has also performed at numerous showings of the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” across the Midwest, at The King Club in downtown Madison, WI, and at the college campuses of Lawrence University (Appleton, WI), Binghamton University (NY) and Notre Dame University (South Bend, IN). In 2005, Luke is looking forward to visiting MilleniCon (Cincinnati), MidSouthCon (Memphis), and ConCarolinas (Charlotte) for the first time.
In addition to comedy music, Luke Ski is also an artist, specializing in caricatures and cartooning. He draws caricatures at the Ed Debevic’s restaurants in Chicago (downtown & Lombard), as well as at many private functions. He is available for birthday parties, weddings, Bar Mitzvahs, and Klingon Rite of Passage Rituals.
Luke resides in Madison, WI, with his good friend and roommate Stephanie Wild, and two cats named Judy Meow and Joss Numfar. When home, Luke enjoys playing with his TiVo, singing Karaoke, trying to keep up with movies, and finding new reasons to hang out at Kinko’s.
Please visit for clips of his music, his tour dates, and his online art portfolio.

Tom Smith -- The man who describes himself as a "Singer, dreamer, punster, flirt, and generally one of the most manic people in the history of SF Fandom" is coming to Penguicon! And he's going to practice his filking at Warp Speed wiles on all of us. Its rumored that Tom can't spend more than ten minutes in one place without a new song popping out of him - on almost any topic you can imagine. Tom has also been compared (by Larry Niven) to Tom Lehrer, hopefully for the political and humor content of his songwriting, and not for his piano playing!

Tom is also a favorite of the Ohio Valley Filk Fest, being a three time songwriting contest winner, and a TEN time Pegasus Award winner for Excellence in Filking! He also bears some responsibility for the "Best Song Tom Smith Never Wrote" OVFF themed songwriting competition, which should probably be looked into.

Tom has had two songs appear on Dr. Demento's "Funny Five" (the top 5 requested songs of the week), "Domino Death" and "Five Years".

Eric Raymond -- A former Penguicon Guest of Honor, Eric is most famous as the author of the Cathedral and the Bazaar (the complete text of which is available on his web page), the book that first described the open source development model, convinced Netscape to open their source code, launched the Mozilla web browser project, and introduced Linux to Wall Street in 1998. He's also the editor of The New Hacker's Dictionary (the online version of which is known as the Jargon File), and president of the Open Source Initiative.
He was also maintainer of the Emacs Lisp library a decade ago, author of Sunsite's original software cataloging engine (the basis for the Trove software map used by freshmeat and sourceforge), the guy who put Curses support into Python, co-founder of one of the first community ISP's back in 1993, a contributor to Nethack, and most recently author of the Bogofilter spam fighting software.
He's also been going to science fiction conventions since the 1970's, and has more science fiction books in his basement than most big-city libraries.

Howard Tayler -- Howard is both the creator of the on-line comic strip "Schlock Mercenary", and a former Product Manager for Novell, where he was responsible for Novell's collaboration product line.

Howard spent over a decade working for Novell, during which time he did tech support, on-site consulting, technical marketing, and four years of product management. His last efforts at Novell included the successful to push to get GroupWise on Linux, and to embrace Open Source development for iFolder.

He's been cartooning for six years now, and has been doing it full-time since September 2004, giving up his GroupWise fanbase (and Novell paycheck) to pay attention to the tens of thousands of Schlock Mercenary readers world-wide.

Rob Balder -- A self-described "renaissance geek," who spreads his creative energies across the fields of comics, game design, small press publishing, SF & Fantasy writing, poetry, and filk.

He is the creator of the clip-art comic strip PartiallyClips, which runs online and has appeared in the pages of more than two dozen newspapers and magazines. PartiallyClips will be featured in the book collection "Attitude 3: the Subversive New Media Cartoonists," edited by Ted Rall and due to be relased in June 2006 from NBM Publishing.

He is the Associate Editor of Nth Degree, a popular fanzine covering genre fiction, gaming, comics, fandom and more. He writes Science Fiction and Fantasy, including one unpublished novel and many short stories and poems.

He writes and sings filk (mostly parody) songs. His first filk CD is called "Rich Fantasy Lives" and features a title track co-written with filk Grandmaster Tom Smith. Songs from this CD have been heard on the nationally-syndicated Doctor Demento Show His second CD, "For Amusement Only" is due out soon.

Rob also teamed up with Pete Abrams of the webcomic Sluggy Freelance to create "Get Nifty", a stand-alone card game themed around Pete’s comic. Get Nifty has just been released for worldwide retail sale, in association with Blood & Cardstock Games.

Cathy Raymond -- Cathy's day job as a litigation attorney is a clever front for over 20 years of convention-going and other fannish activities, including tons of costuming, LARPing, and a stint on the bid committee for the Millennium Philcon. She was a GOH at Arisia 2004, probably because her husband is "that open source guy" Eric Raymond and because of their presentation of the beginning of her career as a non-techie Linux user at LinuxWorld Expo in 2002: 'Drag.Net: A Windows-to-Linux Migration Case Study and Vaudeville Routine.' Nowadays, Cathy's hobbies include keeping up with too many email lists and complaining about not having enough time to houseclean. Although she does have a black belt in tae kwon do and is currently studying wing chun kung fu, rumors of her secret ninja status are greatly exaggerated.

William and Will Neibling -- Will Niebling is president and CEO of Mayfair Games, and his son, William, is his local right-hand man. Mayfair's primary focus is board, card and train games aimed at the family and specialty game markets, but their product line also includes a few role-playing and collectible trading card games, English-language imports of European game titles, as well as licensed online versions of their most popular games. Many of the games Mayfair has published have won major game industry awards and some have gone on to sell copies numbering in the hundreds of thousands. Will also represents Koplow Games, "The Nice Dice Company."

Clif Flynt -- TCL guru. Check either his personal website or his corporate website for more information.

The Ferrett  -- The Ferrett - and yes, people do call him that - is one of the most-read writers on LiveJournal, blogging daily about sex, relationships, and Godawful puns to an audience of thousands.  He is also the Editor-in-Chief and Webmaster of, the most popular independent Magic: the Gathering site, which doles out daily parcels of Magic strategy to an audience of tens of thousands.  And when the Ferrett wants to reach an audience of hundreds of thousands of people, he writes up a new Purity Quiz for the Internet - including the Ultimate Sexual Purity Quiz, which half a million people have taken, and the Ultimate Roleplaying Quiz.  He has also written several computer books, including LAN PARTY: HOSTING THE ULTIMATE FRAG FEST and WICKED COOL PHP TRICKS (due Summer 2006), and used to be the Computer Book buyer for Waldenbooks, distributing the best in technology writing to over a thousand stores.

Oh, yes - and most important of all, he's just started a new Web comic (with artist Veronica Pare) called Home On The Strange, detailing the lives of middle-aged, middle-class nerds and their tragically-single friends.  It is vitally important that you visit now, or else the world will come to an end.  He's not kidding.

Eric Millikin is a genius young artist from Detroit and the son of a layed-off auto worker. To pay his way through art school he cut up dead bodies in Michigan State's human anatomy lab. After the police raided his apartment without a search warrant hoping to find sculptures he’d made from dead fetuses, he decided it would be great fun to put a dead fetus comic called "Fetus-X" in their newspapers and then make the cops choke to death on their doughnuts.

Fetus-X is a weekly autobio political horror comic. Basically, if gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson were an artist instead of a columnist, and more into the occult than he was into drugs, Fetus-X would be the comic that he’d make. While he’s dead. Fetus-X is either "Entertainingly perverse," "Genius," "Very cool," "Very funny," or "Blasphemous," depending on whether you ask The Comics Journal, the guys from Penny Arcade, Scott McCloud, Pulitzer Prize winner Joel Pett, or the Catholic League of America.

Millikin's comics and artwork have appeared in newspapers at over 20 colleges, in alt-weeklies like the Detroit Metro Times, and in daily newspapers like the Lansing State Journal, and The Detroit News and Free Press, and USA TODAY. is one of the most popular webcomic sites, and Fetus-X is featured in the new book Attitude 3, edited by Ted Rall.

“Fetus-X by Eric Millikin gets stranger and more pissed-off week by week. You owe it to yourself to swirl Fetus-X around your brain every seven days... It made me laugh out loud.” -- Warren Ellis, author of DC/Vertigo’s Transmetropolitan

Sarah Zettel was born in California in 1966. Since then, she’s lived in ten cities, four states and two countries. Currently, she lives in Michigan with her husband Tim and her cat, Buffy the Vermin Slayer. To date, she’s written nine novels, five of which are science fiction and four of which are fantasy. She’s also written a whole bunch of short stories that are mostly science fiction with some fantasy and horror thrown in.

Michael Z. Williamson says: "I am a writer with an eclectic body of work. That means I've never pinned myself down to one genre. I apologize to the marketing people, because I know they hate that and I hate to see them cry. It also makes it hard to categorize my works for my bibliography. However, subjects I've written in do include politics, firearms, the military, science fiction, military fiction, fantasy, humor and nonfiction."

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Last modified 2006-04-10 07:10 AM

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