Con Kasterborous: The Doctor And The Rocket City

Big thanks to our friend Matthew Kresal for this week’s guest article about the upcoming Con Kasterborous!  It’ll be taking place next weekend on June 10th and 11th at The Westin at Bridge Street, hope we can see you hop in your TARDIS and make it.

If you are a science fiction geek, chances are you will have heard of Doctor Who. Doctor Who is a long running British science fiction series, the world’s longest running in fact with a run that initially spanned from 1963 to 1989 and began again in 2005 with the current season of the show running as I write these words.

Huntsville is home to Con Kasterborous, a convention dedicated to the series and all things geek, which has been running every summer since 2012 with its latest incarnation taking place at the Bridgestreet Westin June 10th and 11th. More than that though, there are perhaps deeper ties between the Rocket City and this series about an alien who travels around time and space in a blue box that is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

IMG_20170531_222726One thing that the two both have in common is a connection to space exploration. Doctor Who has for it being a science fiction series with strange new worlds and alien invaders being part and parcel of its history from almost day one.

Yet the series has taken more than a few cues from the real world space exploration done by the likes of NASA in stories from its ‘classic’ run such as 1970’s The Ambassadors Of Death (in which we get to see a British version of NASA which is sending humans to Mars in the then not too distant future) or in its current incarnation with stories like The Waters Of Mars (set almost entirely on the first colony set up on the Red Planet). While the series has done more than its fair share of stories that might be termed ‘science fantasy’ rather than ‘science fiction’, it has occasionally shown an interest in real-life space flight.

There’s also the sense of history that both share. It’s hard to go around Huntsville without being reminded of the city’s history from historical plaques and monuments to the simple fact that we’re home to the US Space & Rocket Center. Doctor Who, perhaps due to the sheer amount of time its run for, has that sense of history behind it. If you’ve never seen the series before, don’t let that discourage you in the slightest as something else it has in common is that sense of welcoming those new to it with all of it charms and quirks, everything that makes it what it is.

IMG_20170531_222712Last but not least, they bring people together from around the country and indeed the world. Huntsville has deserved its reputation of being what a friend once termed a “Silicon Valley of the south” thanks to the people brought here by both NASA and the Army’s Redstone Arsenal.

Conventions like Con Kasterborous do the same thing and this year’s event will not only see special guests coming from England, Wales, and Scotland but all attendees from across North America. There’s attendees from Connecticut, New Jersey, New Mexico, California, and even someone coming from Canada to attend the convention. Why is that you may ask?

It’s a variety of things I think. In part its because of the guests the convention brings including Fifth Doctor actor Peter Davison (whose daughter Georgia Moffet has not only appeared in Doctor Who playing the title role in The Doctor’s Daughter but is the wife of Tenth Doctor actor David Tennant), Scottish actress Neve McIntosh (whom fans will recognize for her role as the Victorian based reptilian sleuth Madame Vastra), Welsh actor Gareth David-Lloyd (who played the still much missed Ianto Jones in Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood), or comic book artist Kelly Yates and Huntsville native Ellie Collins who is a budding actress and novelist.

There’s also an array of panels covering different aspects of Doctor Who including its spin-off audio dramas from Big Finish Productions or other fandoms like Star Wars and the vendors selling all kinds of things connected to the show and beyond. A big part of it could be the family friendly atmosphere the convention has from its organizers to its staff or even the fact it has a kid zone where parents can leave their little ones for a bit to go off and enjoy the con.

For like the series it was inspired by and Huntsville itself, Con Kasterborous is a welcoming place for anyone and everyone with an interest in sci-fi. That’s no matter who who are or where you’re from. Or indeed, for that matter, how many tentacles you might happen to have.

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