Far Beyond the Stars
|"Far Beyond the Stars"|
|Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode|
|Episode no.||Season 6
|Directed by||Avery Brooks|
|Story by||Marc Scott Zicree|
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy|
|Cinematography by||Jonathan West|
|Original air date||February 11, 1998|
"Far Beyond the Stars" is the 137th episode of the syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the 13th episode of season six. The teleplay was written by Ira Steven Behr and Hans Beimler, based on a story by Marc Scott Zicree. Cast member Avery Brooks directed. It is unique in that almost the full cast of DS9 portrays human characters, without their alien costumes, as a rare example of metafiction in the fictional Star Trek universe.
Distraught by the death of a close friend in the Dominion War, Captain Benjamin Sisko speaks with his father about leaving Starfleet, but before he makes a decision, he is distracted by a vision of a man who is dressed in 20th-century clothes. The visions rapidly increase in number. Dr. Bashir's tests of Sisko show the same synaptic potentials as he had when he had visions a year ago (in the episode "Rapture").
The visions show him as Benny Russell, an African-American science fiction writer on Earth in 1950s New York City. Benny Russell writes for the science fiction magazine Incredible Tales, in a New York City populated by human versions of different characters from DS9: Herbert Rossoff (Quark) as a left-wing short-tempered Jewish writer; Julius Eaton (Dr. Bashir), a British writer; K.C. Hunter (Kira Nerys), Eaton's wife and a tough female writer who has to adopt a nom de plume to disguise the fact that she's a woman from her readers; Albert Macklin (Miles O'Brien), a socially awkward stutterer who prefers to write stories about robots; Darlene Kursky (Jadzia Dax), a secretary whose ditsy, giggly personality belies her intelligence; Douglas Pabst (Odo), the editor of Incredible Tales, who shows sympathy for the discriminatory treatment experienced by Benny (and K.C.) but refuses to help them or take responsibility for his own role in their treatment; Roy Ritterhouse, an artist (Martok); an unnamed newsboy (Nog); two racist policemen, Officer Burt Ryan (Gul Dukat) and Officer Kevin Mulkahey (Weyoun); Benny's girlfriend Cassie (Kasidy Yates); Willie Hawkins, a baseball player (Worf); Jimmy, a local hustler (Jake Sisko); and a fiery preacher who preaches about the will of the Prophets (Joseph Sisko).
Pabst announces photo day and Hunter takes the hint that she should not show up that day so that the readers do not learn she is a woman. Benny Russell realizes he's not expected to show up for photos either because he is black. Though frustrated, he volunteers to write a story based on a stylized drawing of a space station. His story, "Deep Space Nine", is about the station's commanding officer, Benjamin Sisko, a human of African descent (or Negro, the term used in the show). The other writers consider it an important work, but Pabst refuses to publish it due to its racial content. Instead of writing something else, Benny writes six new stories about Sisko. This causes a passionate argument in the office among the various employees with some suggesting that Benny should self-publish. Albert suggests that Benny make the ending of his first Sisko story a dream, a compromise that both Benny and Pabst accept after it is clarified that the dreaming is being done by a Negro person.
While out with his girlfriend to celebrate his story being published, Benny overhears gunshots. He rushes to the scene to find that Jimmy has been killed by Officers Ryan and Mulkahey, ostensibly because he was trying to break into a car. When Benny protests this injustice, they beat him savagely.
On his first day back at the office, excited to see his story in print, he learns that the whole month's run of the magazine has been pulped, as the owner preferred to take a loss rather than sell a magazine featuring a Negro hero and that Benny is being fired for writing the story. Benny breaks down; he screams that although the world can deny him, they cannot destroy his ideas and the future he envisions is real. He collapses to the floor sobbing and is taken away by an ambulance. As he falls unconscious, he looks through the window and sees not a cityscape, but stars streaking by as if the vehicle is traveling at warp. The preacher sits by him and tells him that he is both the dreamer and the dream. Sisko wakes up back on the station, to the relief of his father and his son. He is deeply moved by his vision, and wonders if somewhere Benny Russell is dreaming of Deep Space Nine.
Zicree's original pitch for the episode featured Jake Sisko as the main character, and did not deal directly with racial issues. Zicree originally patterned the Bashir/Kira characters on Henry Kuttner and C. L. Moore, and the O'Brien character on Isaac Asimov.
Zicree's story was combined with ideas that story editor Robert Hewitt Wolfe had written for a script called "Cold and Distant Stars", a very early draft for the Season Three two-part episode "Past Tense", in which Wolfe suggested a story about Sisko as a contemporary homeless man who believes he is a star base captain, but who is diagnosed as schizophrenic and drugged to suppress his visions. At that time, producer Ira Behr had rejected the hallucinatory element in favor of a time-travel story.
The character of Benny Russell returns in "Shadows and Symbols", the second episode of the seventh season.
Alternate roles in 1950s
- Benjamin Sisko as Benny Russell
- Kasidy Yates as Cassie, diner waitress
- Quark as Herbert Rossoff, writer
- Julian Bashir as Julius Eaton, writer
- Kira Nerys as K.C. Hunter (real name Kay Eaton), writer
- Miles O'Brien as Albert Macklin, writer
- Odo as Douglas Pabst, editor
- Jadzia Dax as Darlene Kursky, Pabst's secretary
- Worf as Willie Hawkins, baseball player in diner
- Jake Sisko as Jimmy, teenage hustler
- Joseph Sisko as street preacher
- Gul Dukat as Burt Ryan, policeman
- Weyoun as Kevin Mulkahey, policeman
- Nog as newsboy
- Martok as Roy Ritterhouse, magazine artist
- "Normal Again" - a Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode that takes a similar approach of an entire series being a mentally constructed fiction of the main character
- Tommy Westphall Universe - another approach that the entire series (and linked ones) are imagined by an autistic boy
- Far Beyond the Stars - a novelization of the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode by Steven Barnes
- Terry J. Erdmann & Paula M. Block, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion. New York: Pocket Books (2000): 532 - 537
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