(written from a Production point of view)
Experiencing a vision from the Prophets, Sisko sees himself as Benny Russell, a science-fiction writer in the 1950s, who struggles with civil rights and inequality when he writes the story of Captain Benjamin Sisko, a black commander of a futuristic space station.
- 1 Summary
- 2 Memorable quotes
- 3 Background information
- 4 Links and references
Joseph Sisko, Captain Benjamin Sisko's father, has left Earth for the first time to visit his son and grandson on Deep Space 9, but his timing couldn't be worse. Although the Federation is in firm control of the station, the Cardassian border is still a risky place for Federation ships to patrol. In particular, the USS Cortez has recently been destroyed, and even a six-hour search by the USS Defiant failed to discover any survivors. That means Captain Quentin Swofford – a man Sisko knew well – is dead, and Sisko is distraught, given that he introduced Swofford to his wife. He is beginning to despair of making any kind of difference in the war effort at all, and is seriously considering stepping down and letting someone else make the tough decisions. Joseph promises to support his son no matter what decision he makes, but warns him to think carefully before he does anything.
As he discusses the news with his father, Sisko is distracted and puzzled when he sees a strange man walk past his office dressed in 1950s Earth clothing. Dax, standing right outside in ops, insists she didn't see anyone, which only makes it a greater puzzle. Later, when walking down a corridor with Kasidy Yates, Sisko is again confused when a baseball player walks past and calls, "Hey, Benny! Catch the game?" Again, Yates is sure she didn't see anyone. When Sisko follows the man through a door, he finds himself suddenly in the middle of a busy New York street and is immediately hit by a taxi.
Doctor Bashir examines him in the infirmary and finds unusual synaptic potentials – his neural patterns look like they did when Sisko was having visions the year before. When Sisko takes a PADD to examine the data for himself, he finds himself instead looking at a copy of Galaxy at a New York newsstand. What's more, Sisko – or rather, Benny Russell – feels completely at home on this street, and when Albert Macklin comes around the corner they walk off together to the office.
The people Russell knows at the office and meets on the street are similar to the people Sisko knows on the station. They sound the same, and look at least somewhat similar, but they are not the same people. The news vendor is not Nog, Macklin is not Miles O'Brien, and Kay Eaton is not Kira Nerys. They are merely characters in a dream created from the likeness of his real-world friends. From this point until Sisko wakes up, the story is told from Benny Russell's perspective (as though the 1950s setting is the "real" world).
When Russell and Macklin arrive at Incredible Tales – the science fiction magazine for which they work – they find writer Herbert Rossoff (Quark) and editor Douglas Pabst (Odo) engaged in "The Battle of the Doughnuts, Round 28" (as Eaton describes it). Eaton herself has been experimenting with White Rose Redi-Tea ("A pitcher of plain water becomes a pitcher of iced tea") – a concept her husband, Julius (Julian Bashir), as a "self-respecting Englishman," finds appalling. Macklin is, as always, looking for matches to light his pipe, even though Russell just gave them to him. When the bickering and general bustle ebbs enough, Pabst calls the meeting to order.
The magazine's illustrator, Roy Ritterhouse (Martok) comes in bearing a stack of science fiction sketches to distribute to the pool of writers for the next month's stories. Russell is particularly taken with a drawing of a space station – basically a circle with pylons at 120 degree intervals, and "USAF DS/9" stenciled around the edge. He takes the sketch and offers to create an appropriate story to accompany it. Trouble starts, however, when Pabst announces that their publisher wants a group photo of the writing staff for the next issue, and Pabst "suggests" that Eaton and Russell "sleep late" the morning it is taken – the public needn't know that women and blacks are writing for Incredible Tales along with the white men. Rossoff sarcastically quips about the dangers of "a Negro with a typewriter" and Russell is angry, but Pabst holds firm. There will be no picture of Eaton and no picture of Russell. "It's not personal Benny, but as far as our readers are concerned, Benny Russell is as white as they are. Let's just keep it that way," Pabst states, matter-of-factly.
That evening, as Russell leaves the office (Incredible Tales is located in the Arthur Trill Building), the space station sketch is caught in a breeze and lands under the shoe of Burt Ryan (Dukat) – an NYPD detective with an attitude. He and his partner, Kevin Mulkahey (Weyoun) are suspicious of a janitor (as they perceive Russell) dressed in a nice suit, but give back the drawing with "This time you're getting off with a warning. Next time you won't be so lucky."
Then, as he's almost home, Russell hears a preacher (Joseph) on a street corner who seems to be speaking directly to Benny. "Write those words, Brother Benny!" the preacher advises – write the words of the "God of the spirits of the prophets."
With all these events fresh in his mind, Benny Russell sits down in his apartment before his typewriter with the space station picture in front of him and begins to write. "Captain Benjamin Sisko sat looking out the window…" Even as he writes the words Benny sees his reflection in his own window – only he has on a curious uniform instead of a shirt and tie and his glasses are gone. He presses on with his story well into the night.
When the story is finally finished some days later he shows it to his fiancee, Cassie (Yates) at the diner where she waits tables. While he is sipping coffee at the counter, famous baseball player Willie Hawkins (Worf) comes in and flirts, only half-jokingly, with Cassie while saying hello to Russell. Russell also encounters Jimmy (Jake Sisko), a street kid. Fresh after hearing Hawkins tell how white people wouldn't want him living in their neighborhoods, Russell hears Jimmy's skepticism about the new story. What's more, Jimmy is trying to pawn a watch he "found" and Russell's cautions about him getting in trouble don't seem to do any good.
On the other hand, the entire writing staff of Incredible Tales loves the story, which Russell has titled "Deep Space Nine." In fact, it is the best thing Pabst's secretary Darlene Kursky (Jadzia Dax) has ever read. Russell, exhausted from lack of sleep, is worried that he's hallucinating – while Kay Eaton is complimenting the "strong female character" in his story, he takes off his glasses for a moment and sees her wearing a red uniform and strange ridges on her nose.
Unfortunately, Pabst himself is unwilling to print the story. "It's not believable," he insists, since it features a Negro space station captain for a hero. Pabst tells Russell to make the captain white, but he angrily tells him that's not what he wrote. Pabst tells Russell that it is his call.
Russell is sitting at the restaurant with a cigarette in his hand telling about his story and Jimmy isn't remotely surprised, and Cassie suggests it may be a sign he should stop writing and go into the restaurant business with her – owning and running the diner. When Hawkins comes in and grabs Russell by the shoulder, he's surprised to see ridges on his forehead and strange clothing. He jumps off the stool in surprise, but when he looks up again it is just Hawkins, asking if Russell had seen the game. Russell leaves, troubled by the vision.
That evening, he encounters the same preacher again. "Walk with the prophets, Brother Benny!" he insists. "Write the words that will lead us out of the darkness and onto the path of righteousness." Russell rushes home and sits down before his typewriter once again, concentrating so hard he even forgets about his date with Cassie. She finds him sleeping with a stack of pages in his hand – a new Ben Sisko story – and tries to get him to relax by taking a "spin around the dance floor" in the living room. He's startled once again when he instead sees himself dancing in a strange room and to hear "Cassie" talking about "the Dominion." He flashes back and forth between his living room and the space station – seeing things from his own story.
As Russell questions his own sanity, Pabst insists he's certifiable – he's written six sequels to the "Deep Space Nine" story Pabst already refused to publish. Macklin makes a suggestion that could salvage everything though: make the story (at least the first story) a dream. If a poor Negro were dreaming of such a future, the story might work, Pabst grudgingly admits, and Russell agrees that anything would be better than not publishing the story at all.
Even as Russell and Cassie are celebrating getting the story published, however, another tragedy strikes. They encounter the preacher, who warns, "the path of the Prophets sometimes leads into darkness and pain", just as gunshots ring through the air. Russell rushes forward and finds that Ryan and Mulkahey have shot and killed Jimmy. When Russell tries to fight his way to him, the two cops begin to beat him up, and Russell sees ridges on Ryan's neck and long thin ears on Mulkahey's face.
Russell has been badly beaten and is walking with a cane, but a few weeks later on the day his story is finally published, he makes his way to the office anyway (with Cassie's encouragement). The staff are happy to see Russell for the first time since his beating. They also reveal that Macklin has sold a novel, and Russell is very happy for his friend. Then Pabst arrives… but with no magazine. Pabst explains that there's not going to be an edition of Incredible Tales that month; apparently the entire run was pulped because the publisher, Mr. Stone, felt the issue didn't meet their "usual high standards". Russell, already knowing the truth, asks what the publishers didn't like. The artwork? The layout? But Russell, already starting to break down, answers his own question: the magazine was pulped because the hero of "Deep Space Nine" is a colored man. Pabst tells Russell that he knows it isn't right, but he furiously defends the decision, saying that "it's not about what's right, it's about what is." This leads into further bad news – the publishers have decided that Russell's services are no longer required. The rest of the staff recoil in shock, and even the normally unflappable Julius Eaton is horrified. Russell tells Pabst that he can't be fired, because he quits, before sweeping the contents of a nearby table on the floor in anger as he begins to have a nervous breakdown. He is devastated that everyone is attempting to deny both himself and Ben Sisko, that the publishers are attempting to destroy the story. But he says, sobbing, that they cannot destroy the idea. Ben Sisko, "Deep Space Nine", and all the people from the story, they exist inside his head, and in the heads of everyone who read it.
- "You can pulp a story, but you cannot destroy an idea! Don't you understand, that's ancient knowledge. You cannot destroy an idea! That future, I created it, and it's real! Don't you understand? It is REAL! I created it and IT'S REAL!"
Russell finally collapses, sobbing and cradled by his former co-workers.
As he's carted away in an ambulance, Benny Russell finds the preacher sitting beside him and sees himself in a strange uniform. "Who am I?" he asks quietly. "You're the dreamer," the preacher answers him, "and the dream."
Captain Benjamin Sisko wakes up in the infirmary with Kasidy, Jake, Joseph, and Dr. Bashir standing over him, happy to see him awake. He was unconscious for only a few minutes, and Bashir reports that his neural patterns are returning to normal.
As Joseph gets ready to leave, Sisko, sitting on a couch in his quarters, says that his dream has encouraged him to stay on DS9 and keep fighting "the good fight." He also confides to his father that he wonders whether their world really is "the real world," or just a vision, and somewhere far beyond the stars Benny Russell really exists. He stares out the window, and sees a reflection of himself wearing Benny's clothes.
"Wishing never changed a damn thing."
- - Benny Russell (Benjamin Sisko)
"Oh! She's got a worm in her belly!… oh that's disgusting. It's interestin', but disgusting."
- - Darlene (Jadzia Dax)
"Calm down, dear boy. We're writers, not Vikings."
- - Julius Eaton (Julian Bashir; see also I'm a doctor, not a...)
"You are the dreamer, . . . and the dream."
- - Preacher (Joseph Sisko)
"Hey! You gonna buy that or not?!"
- - Newspaper vendor (Nog), to Benny Russell on an issue of Galaxy magazine he was reading
"All right, friends and neighbors, let's see what Uncle Roy brought you today."
- - Roy (Martok)
"Well I got news for you… today or a hundred years from now don't make a bit of difference – as far as they're concerned, we'll always be n*ggers."
- - Jimmy (Jake Sisko)
"If the world's not ready for a woman writer – imagine what would happen if it learned about a Negro with a typewriter – run for the hills! It's the end of civilization!"
- - Herbert Rossoff (Quark)
"Herb's been angry ever since the day Joseph Stalin died…"
- - Douglas Pabst (Odo)
"I like robots."
- - Albert Macklin (Miles O'Brien)
"Call anybody you want, they can't do anything to me, not any more, and nor can any of you. I am a Human being, dammit! You can deny me all you want but you can't deny Ben Sisko – He exists! That future, that space station, all those people – they exist in here! (pointing to his head) In my mind. I created it. And everyone of you knew it, you read it. It's here. (pointing to his head again) Do you hear what I'm telling you? You can pulp a story but you cannot destroy an idea, don't you understand, that's ancient knowledge, you cannot destroy an idea. (becoming hysterical) That future – I created it, and it's real! Don't you understand? It is real. I created it. And it's real! IT'S REAL! Oh God!" (he collapses, sobbing hysterically)
- - Benny Russell (Benjamin Sisko)
"I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith."
- - Joseph Sisko, quoting from the Bible (2 Timothy 4:7)
"For all we know, at this very moment, somewhere far beyond all those distant stars, Benny Russell is dreaming of us."
- - Benjamin Sisko
Title, story, and script
- A working title of this episode was "The Cold and Distant Stars", virtually the same working title as was used for "Past Tense, Part I".
- Marc Scott Zicree's original pitch focused on Jake Sisko, and rather than actually experiencing a vision, he travelled through time, back to the 1950s, and met a group of struggling science fiction writers. However, at the end of the episode, it was revealed that he never time-traveled at all; it was all part of a trick played on him by an alien who wanted to find out something about Humanity. Ira Steven Behr didn't like the idea, saying, "It felt a little bit like a gimmick. There was no bottom to the story," and he turned it down. However, Behr liked the backdrop concerning science fiction writers in a 1950s setting, so he kept that in mind, and several months later, he decided to switch the protagonist from Jake to his father and introduce the theme of racism. In an unusual break in protocol, Behr then pitched his idea to Zicree and asked him to write a story based upon it. Zicree did this, then Behr took Zicree's story outline, and, along with Hans Beimler, composed the script. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- In Zicree's outline, Michael Dorn's character was a boxer, not a baseball player. He was romantically involved with a white woman, which was discovered by the racist policemen, who subsequently beat him to death; this killing was replaced with the shooting of Jimmy in the finished episode. Also, in Zicree's version, Armin Shimerman's character got encouraged by Russell's breakdown to go ahead and publish his Benjamin Sisko story. 
- The drawing titled "Honeymoon on Andoris" did not have a title in the original script.
Cast and characters
- Originally, Casey Biggs was supposed to appear in this episode (probably in a different role than his usual character of Damar), but he was in New York City at the time and couldn't spare time for making it.
- Despite the fact that he made a total of 282 Star Trek appearances, this is the only time that Michael Dorn appears on Star Trek as a Human. However, he did appear, without his Klingon makeup, as a Boraalan in TNG: "Homeward", which also featured Penny Johnson.
- This is the only Deep Space Nine episode in which Armin Shimerman (Quark) and Rene Auberjonois (Odo) appear without make-up. (Auberjonois had appeared as a Human, Colonel West, in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country and later as the Kantare Ezral in ENT: "Oasis".) Aron Eisenberg (Nog) and Jeffrey Combs (Weyoun) appear again without makeup, in series finale "What You Leave Behind", as holosuite guests at a farewell party on Deep Space 9 in late 2375.
- Although Rene Auberjonois, Armin Shimerman, and Colm Meaney appear in this episode, their regular characters of Odo, Quark, and Miles O'Brien do not, nor are Aron Eisenberg and J.G. Hertzler seen in their regular roles of Nog and Martok.
- For this episode, Avery Brooks not only portrayed the dual role of Sisko and Benny Russell but also directed the installment, consequently endeavoring to capture, in the episode, the performances of his fellow actors. Regarding his interest in depicting the entire collective of 1950s characters, he commented, "The people we saw in that office each had a very specific identity. I wanted to see who those people were, in order to investigate one of the most oppressive times of the twentieth century. They were living with McCarthyism and the atomic bomb and the Red Scare. I mean, that was a very interesting period." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- The characters were used to highlight the episode's inherent theme of racism. Avery Brooks commented, "If we had changed the people's clothes, this story could be about right now. What's insidious about racism is that it is unconscious. Even among these very bright and enlightened characters – a group that includes a woman writer who has to use a man's name to get her work published, and who is married to a brown man with a British accent in 1953 – it's perfectly reasonable to coexist with someone like Pabst. It's in the culture, it's the way people think. So that was the approach we took. I never talked about racism. I just showed how these intelligent people think, and it all came out of them." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Avery Brooks also commented, however, that the episode is not exclusively about racism; "The people thought it was about racism, well maybe so, maybe not [….] But the fact of the matter in 'Far Beyond the Stars' is that you have a man who essentially was conceiving of something far beyond what people around him had ever imagined, and therefore they thought he was crazy." (Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features)
- This episode was Avery Brooks' personal favorite, and it was his episode of choice for the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log collection. Brooks stated, "I'd have to say, it was the most important moment for me in the entire seven years." (Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) He appreciated the episode so much that, when asked to sum up his feelings about it, Brooks smiled and said, "It should have been a two-parter." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- Apart from Avery Brooks himself, this episode is also a favorite of several members of the cast. (Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) Rene Auberjonois, for example, commented, "Brilliant episode. One of the best of the whole series and Avery did a fabulous job of directing it." Michael Dorn said, "It was wonderfully shot." Penny Johnson commented, "This was beautifully handled and beautifully shot. But it still, in the heart, it got me." (Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) J.G. Hertzler commented, "I thought ['Far Beyond the Stars'] was one you could have built an entire series from."  Of Brooks' performance in the episode, Jeffrey Combs commented, "Avery was spectacular. There was a scene toward the end where he falls apart with the camera right in front of his nose. It was just riveting." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?)) The same scene was also extremely memorable for Nana Visitor. (What We Left Behind)
- Armin Shimerman enjoyed the installment, too. He said, "'Far Beyond the Stars" is without question my favorite episode. It is perfect science fiction." Shimerman specifically thought highly of how the installment serves as a reminder of prejudice, especially racism, the actor commenting, "That's what that episode does terrifically well." (Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features) He also remarked, "Obviously ['Far Beyond the Stars'] is not a Quark episode, but the reason I like that one so much is that it's perfect science fiction. I think it really stretches the imagination of the viewer and breaks down the fourth wall to talk about the real heroes of any TV shows, which are the writers. I loved what our writers did with it. It was one of the most creative TV episodes I've ever seen or been in. I do tend to watch it again whenever it's on because it was just a terrific episode." ("Boom and Bust", Star Trek Magazine issue 127)
- Armin Shimerman's enjoyment of the episode was despite the fact that he found appearing sans make-up was a challenge to adjust to. He commented, "Being out of makeup was slightly off-putting. I've grown accustomed to the Quark mask being a mechanism for support. That face describes who I am as an alien character. And also, while many actors worry about how they look on camera, I don't, because my face isn't on camera. So it was bizarre to be bare-faced on a Star Trek show. I never had been before." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- For the art department, working on this episode was a thrilling experience. "The art department was very excited about what we were going to be doing for 'Far Beyond the Stars'," reminisced John Eaves. "We had all grown up with the wacky science fiction stories and movies of the Fifties and it was great to have the opportunity to pay homage to the past." ("Far Beyond the Drawing Board", Star Trek Monthly issue 54)
- "Far Beyond the Stars" was a particularly different episode for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine to work on, necessitating a lot of collaborative effort. John Eaves remembered, "Doug Drexler, Mike and Denise Okuda, and Anthony Fredickson were all very busy working on the magazine covers and background art. Jim Van Over created the Fifties style version of the Deep Space Nine station. Fritz Zimmerman and Tony Bro designed these fabulous office sets representing Fifties New York City. Laura Richarz had a field day finding circa Fifties decor, and Herman Zimmerman and Randy McIlvain were busy doing the production design on the whole project. I got the task of doing the pack of drawings that the stories were to be written from." ("Far Beyond the Drawing Board", Star Trek Monthly issue 54)
- The silver item on Herbert Rossoff's desk (which he places in a case as he threatens to quit) is an actual Hugo Award. It was loaned to the production by Rick Sternbach, who had won it for "Best Professional Artist".
- In terms of why Avery Brooks was chosen to direct this episode, Supervising Producer Steve Oster explained, "Ira Steven Behr and I discussed the possibility of Avery directing, knowing that he was going to be in every frame of film. We don't like that combination, because it's very hard to direct yourself. However, this was a story about racism and prejudice and we felt very strongly that it would be wrong if it came from a bunch of people who didn't necessarily know about that experience. We knew that it was imperative to the story and imperative to the integrity of television for it to be done right." (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?)) Additionally, Oster reflected, "Originally, on our director's schedule for that season, Avery wasn't scheduled to direct 'Far Beyond the Stars', and I think as we talked about it more, it became clear, we can't not have Avery direct that episode, because it's all about representing this struggle in our country's past and, in some instances, the present." Regarding how the invitation itself was given to him, Brooks himself recalled, "Ira Behr came to me. He said, 'I have this idea, and I wanna know whether you are interested, because you will be in front of the camera, but I also wanna know if you wanna direct.' I said, 'Well… okay." (What We Left Behind)
- Avery Brooks was pleased to be given the assignment of directing this episode. "You know, because of the writing of it, because it talked about 1953, because it talked about who we are or who we were, this idea of this brown man, writing this science fiction, I thought that was incredibly clever," he enthused. (What We Left Behind)
- Of course, one of the tasks Avery Brooks had in directing this episode was making its 1950s setting appear convincing. Michael Dorn stated, "Avery spent a lot of time and effort to make it look like the fifties." (Mission Inquiry: Far Beyond the Stars, DS9 Season 6 DVD special features)
- Upon filming the scene in which Benny Russell falls to the ground, Avery Brooks became extraordinarily involved in delivering his performance. Ira Steven Behr commented, "Avery was so deeply into the character that he went down and stayed down." First Assistant Director Lou Race recalled shooting the scene; "He falls to the floor, and I'm saying, 'Well, I gotta say cut. But how long should I let this go on?'" Nana Visitor related, "They called cut, and he's… not coming out, and I know what that feels like as an actor. You're gone, and he was… he was gone." Added Lou Race, "If I'd stood there for half an hour, I think he would have kept on. He was very committed to that part and very committed to that scene." (What We Left Behind)
- Ronald D. Moore said, "In my humble opinion, I think it's one of the best episodes in the entire franchise. (And I wish I was the one who wrote it!) Ira & Hans have written a true classic and when this show is long gone, I hope that people will still remember this one." In particular, Moore singled out the ending. "I always liked the idea that all of DS9 may be nothing more than the fevered imaginings of Benny Russell. I still get a kick out of the ending and think it is one of the key ingredients to elevating the show to something very special." (AOL chat, 1997)
- Appropriately, this episode first aired during Black History Month. According to Ron Moore, this wasn't planned – "Just a happy coincidence." (AOL chat, 1997)
- This episode was nominated for three Emmy Awards: Outstanding Art Direction for a Series, Outstanding Costume Design for a Series (Robert Blackman), and Outstanding Hairstyling for a Series. According to the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?), everyone who worked on the episode felt that Avery Brooks gave an Emmy-award-winning performance, and there was a great deal of disappointment amongst both cast and crew when he wasn't even nominated.
- Ira Steven Behr reckoned that most fans didn't realize Avery Brooks had gotten as deeply as he did into playing Benny Russell's breakdown. (What We Left Behind)
- In Star Trek 101 (p. 125), Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block list "Far Beyond the Stars" as being one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Cinefantastique ranked "Far Beyond the Stars" as the seventh best episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Cinefantastique honored the episode with a cover image in 1999. (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, No. 4/5, p. 99-100)
- Empire Magazine placed "Far Beyond the Stars" third in a list of the top fifty Star Trek episodes. 
- Adam Nimoy, son of Leonard Nimoy, commented, "One of my favourites is 'Far Beyond the Stars' – but, y'know, you've got to know who they are to understand and get that episode. That's absolutely of the best television ever made, but you've got to know […] the history to appreciate what's going on." 
- This episode has been repeatedly screened by Professor John Putman, of San Diego State University, to his students. "Of course in my classroom, using Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, particularly the episode 'Far Beyond the Stars', that is where I really bring in the experiences of the early 90s [concerning racism and social unrest]." (What We Left Behind)
- Michael Chabon commented: "One of my favorite episodes of any Star Trek ever is the episode of Deep Space Nine, 'Far Beyond the Stars'... [It] squarely takes on the subject of race and racism in America, not in the future, in the past, in a really interesting way, but in a way that also clearly resonates on many levels with science fiction fandom as it currently exists or as it existed when that episode of Deep Space Nine was made. You know, that's what Star Trek's for, in addition to all the other things that it may be for". 
- Chabon also described this episode, along with TNG: "The Inner Light", as "two of my favorite episodes of television, period." 
- Kirsten Beyer commented: "Can't get enough of Benny Russell. 'For all we know he's out there right now dreaming of us'. It feels classic while being entirely meta. I love how it doesn't shy away from the implications of race in the period and the tragedy of Russell's ultimate fate". 
Star Trek and science fiction
- Of this episode's relationship with the pioneering science fiction of the 1950s, Director Avery Brooks commented, "It presented a page of our history, from a time when science fiction was becoming a part of the mainstream. And when we talk about those writers, we're talking about the reason that we're even here!" (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?))
- According to an interview in Star Trek Monthly issue 40, the Incredible Tales staffers were based on various real-life genre authors. For instance, Albert Macklin was intended as an homage to Isaac Asimov. Indeed, Albert's first novel was to be published by Gnome Press, as was Asimov's debut book in 1950 – a collection of short stories entitled I, Robot. Kay Eaton, who wrote under the name "K.C. Hunter" to hide her gender, was a version of Catherine Moore, who similarly wrote under the name "C.L. Moore", as well as Star Trek's own D.C. Fontana, who wrote for Star Trek: The Original Series.
- Benny's character caused some fans to be reminded of Samuel R. Delany, an African-American science fiction writer who actually started in the early 1960s, a few years after this episode is set. Delany was friends with most of the real-life analogs of the writers in this story, most of whom are noted elsewhere for supporting the efforts of non-white writers. Delany has recalled that his 1967 novel Nova was rejected by Campbell, due to feeling that SF readers were not ready for a black protagonist, identical to the reason that Benny's story was rejected by Pabst. Nova was ultimately published by Doubleday and received a nomination for the 1969 Hugo Award. Reportedly, some time after this episode, Avery Brooks phoned Delany (whom he had never previously met) and jokingly asked, "Do you know who this is?" Other reports suggest that it was Delany who phoned Brooks. (citation needed • edit) Brooks said of Delany, "When you look at ['Far Beyond the Stars'], you have to think about Samuel Delany and Octavia Butler. Octavia Butler, God rest her soul, is one of the most prolifically read writers in the world. Samuel Delany was this trail blazing science fiction writer. Those are not the only two, of course. But you have to think about that. It's not just from this imagination that the episode happened. We go back to 1953 and there it is." 
- The drawing titled "Honeymoon on Andoris" (which depicts a giant praying mantis scaling a skyscraper to find a beautiful woman at the top) is a parody of King Kong. This drawing may also be a reference to the novella The Savage Swarm by Harlan Ellison.
- When Benny Russell enters the office on the day his story is to be published, Kay and Julius Eaton are discussing their story and Kay suggests the title "It Came from Outer Space", to which Julius responds positively, adding, "I wish I'd thought of it!" This is a reference to a 1953 Jack Arnold film of the same name, which was written by famous sci-fi author Ray Bradbury.
- Although Incredible Tales is a fictional magazine created for the episode, their competitor magazine Galaxy Science Fiction was an actual science fiction digest magazine published from 1950 to 1995, and it featured writing from such greats as Robert A. Heinlein, Ray Bradbury, and Theodore Sturgeon.
- A memo from Douglas Pabst above Rossoff's desk reads, "No one would believe that a cheerleader could kill vampires" – a reference to Buffy the Vampire Slayer, a TV show which featured Armin Shimerman in a recurring role. Buffy returned homage to Star Trek in an episode of its last season, with a Spock lookalike.
Star Trek and "Far Beyond the Stars"
- During a scene where some of the Incredible Tales staff have an argument, Douglas Pabst says that he can't change the world, explaining, "I'm a magazine editor, not a crusader." In a later argument, Julius Eaton tells them to be civilized and adds, "We're writers, not Vikings." These lines are homages to the famous "I'm a doctor, not a..." series of quotes perpetuated by Leonard McCoy.
- The Galaxy magazine cover art is a matte painting of Starbase 11, which was seen in Star Trek: The Original Series episode "Court Martial". Additionally, "Court Martial" is the featured story in the magazine, and is shown as being written by Samuel Cogley, who was an attorney defending James T. Kirk in the TOS episode. Similarly, the cover of Astounding Science Fiction, read by K.C. Hunter, features the matte painting of Eminiar VII from "A Taste of Armageddon".
- The cover of the March 1953 edition of Incredible Tales shows the surface of Delta Vega from "Where No Man Has Gone Before". It also advertises such stories as "The Cage" (written by E.W. Roddenberry, who is also said to be the writer of "Questor"), "The Corbomite Maneuver", "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and "Journey to Babel" (written by D.C. Fontana).
- The offices of Incredible Stories are found in the "Arthur Trill Building", a reference to both the Trill species and the real-life Brill Building.
- The title "Honeymoon on Andoris" is a reference to Andoria.
- A poster outside the Rendezvous Dance Club can be seen advertising "Phineas Tarbolde and the Nightingale Woman", referencing a sonnet verbally referred to in TOS: "Where No Man Has Gone Before": "Nightingale Woman" by Tarbolde, whom reference works such as the Star Trek Encyclopedia had given the first name "Tarbolde".
Deep Space Nine in 1953
- Benny is in the office, discussing his story, when his world and that of Sisko begin to merge. This begins with Darlene Kursky (Jadzia Dax) referring to the woman with a worm in her belly, after which K.C. Hunter momentarily becomes Kira Nerys as she compliments "this major of yours," and Roy Ritterhouse (Martok) says he wants to sketch the Cardassians in Benny's story. Furthermore, Michael Dorn (Willie Hawkins and Worf), Jeffrey Combs (Kevin Mulkahey and Weyoun), and Marc Alaimo (Burt Ryan and Dukat) all appear for brief moments, wearing their usual make-up at various points.
- The rivalry between Douglas Pabst (Odo) and Herbert Rossoff (Quark), Albert Macklin (Miles O'Brien) having an affinity for machinery (Macklin wrote about robots; O'Brien was an engineer), and the depictions of Burt Ryan (Dukat) and Kevin Mulkahey (Weyoun) as villains are parallels of the Deep Space Nine plot.
- Herbert Rossoff calling Douglas Pabst a "fascist" mirrors Quark calling Odo one in the previous season in "The Ascent".
- The Benny Russell plot continues in the seventh season episode "Shadows and Symbols", although that vision is sent by the Pah-wraiths. Casey Biggs (Damar) appears as Doctor Wykoff at that time, continuing the practice of having characters in the Benny Russell version of the world be parallels of antagonists in the DS9 plot.
- The producers also toyed with the idea of ending the series (in "What You Leave Behind") with a shot of Benny Russell sitting outside a television soundstage, holding a script for "Deep Space Nine" – essentially making the series, and possibly the whole of Star Trek, either a dream or a prophecy from the Bajoran Prophets – but this idea was ultimately rejected. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?)) Ironically, Herbert Rossoff (Quark) comments in this episode that making the whole story a dream would demean the entire story.
- This is the first time Kasidy Yates appears since "Rapture" in early season 5, despite her close bond to the Siskos in that episode (the long gap between that installment and this one was due to Penny Johnson's obligations to The Larry Sanders Show).
- This is the only episode in Star Trek directed by the episode's lead actor to depict the actor's character heavily; Star Trek V: The Final Frontier has a similar distinction, being directed by leading actor William Shatner. Similarly, Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was directed by Leonard Nimoy, though his version of Spock has less screen time than in the also-Nimoy-directed Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home. Usually, when an actor directs, their character has a very small role (such as Brooks' role in "Tribunal", Rene Auberjonois' role in "Prophet Motive", Alexander Siddig's role in "Business as Usual", Patrick Stewart's role in "In Theory", etc.), rather than, as in this episode, the same person directing also playing a prominent lead role.
- This is the only Star Trek episode to contain the racial slur "n*ggers"; in this episode, it is said by Jake's character, Jimmy, in reference to his belief that black people will never get into space except to shine white people's shoes. Also unique is the utterance "For Christ's sake," by the character Douglas Pabst. Both of these have been censored in re-airings.
- The song playing over the first Benny scene, the argument with the newspaper boy, is "The Glow-Worm", written by Paul Lincke in 1909. It was recorded in 1952 by the vocal group Mills Brothers and reached number one in the pop charts that same year.
- "Far Beyond the Stars" is most probably referencing the story surrounding the production of the comics "Judgement Day", written by Al Feldstein and drawn by Joe Orlando, in which an astronaut working for the Galactic Republic (an equivalent of the Federation) assesses a planet of robots for joining and ultimately rejects their candidature due to their color-based racism. In the very last panel of the comic, the astronaut is revealed to be black of skin, with the text reading, "And inside the ship, the man removed his space helmet and shook his head, and the instrument light made the beads of perspiration on his dark skin twinkle like distant stars…" The Comic Code Administrator, Judge Murphy, required of the editor, Gaines, to censor the black character. Feldstein reported having replied to the judge, "For God's sakes, Judge Murphy, that's the whole point of the goddamn story!" The story was eventually printed uncensored despite the judge's opposition, but the magazine suffered from this daring act.
- When Benny lists famous black writers and their works, he mentions the 1940 Richard Wright novel Native Son. In the same year as "Far Beyond the Stars", Avery Brooks appeared in the Tony Kaye film American History X, in which Brooks' character also had a strong affinity for Wright's novel and introduced it into the school curriculum.
- The quote from the Bible at the end of the episode is from 2 Timothy 4:7. The full passage reads, "For I am already on the point of being sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord the righteous judge, will award me on that day, and not only to me, but also to all who have loved his appearing."
- There was some talk that the final scene of "What You Leave Behind" would feature Benny Russell sitting outside a sound stage holding a script that read "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine", essentially making the series, and all of Star Trek, a dream. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (p. ?); Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, p. 99) Hans Beimler commented, "At one point we were considering ending the series with Benny Russell walking the station, what he imagined. But Benny Russell was something that was introduced in the sixth season. It's important that this series be a seven-year arc, not a two-year arc, so to end on that note I think would have been inappropriate. It's an interesting way to go, [though]." (Cinefantastique, Vol. 32, Nos. 4/5, p. 86) Recalled Ira Steven Behr, "At one point I pitched the idea that at the end of the series everything would have been from the imagination of Benny Russell. Of course they wouldn't let me do that – it would have taken away the entire franchise. But what's so crazy about the idea that DS9 was part of Benny's mind? It's part of Rick Berman's mind and Michael Piller's mind and my mind, Robert [Hewitt Wolfe]'s mind, Hans [Beimler]' mind, René [Echevarria]'s mind, and Ron [D. Moore]'s mind. So of course it's part of someone's mind." (The Fifty-Year Mission: The Next 25 Years, p. 526)
- This episode was adapted in the novelization Far Beyond the Stars.
- Remastered scenes from "Far Beyond the Stars" are featured in the documentary What We Left Behind.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 6.7, 6 July 1998
- As part of the DS9 Season 6 DVD collection
- As Avery Brooks' episode choice in the Star Trek: Fan Collective - Captain's Log collection
Links and references
- Rene Auberjonois as Douglas Pabst
- Michael Dorn as Worf and Willie Hawkins
- Terry Farrell as Jadzia Dax and Darlene Kursky
- Cirroc Lofton as Jake Sisko and Jimmy
- Colm Meaney as Albert Macklin
- Armin Shimerman as Herbert Rossoff
- Alexander Siddig as Julian Bashir and Julius Eaton
- Nana Visitor as Kira Nerys and Kay Eaton (aka "K.C. Hunter")
- Brock Peters as Joseph Sisko and The Preacher
- Jeffrey Combs as Weyoun and Kevin Mulkahey
- Marc Alaimo as Gul Dukat and Burt Ryan
- J.G. Hertzler as Roy Ritterhouse
- Aron Eisenberg as a News Vendor
- Henry Kingi, Jr. as a diner patron
- Unknown actors as
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Incredible Tales references
"1001: First Odyssey"; "Assault on Planet 10"; Astounding Science Fiction; Atomic Adventure; "Attack on Planet Eminiar Seven"; "Bad Day at Red Rock"; Behr, I.S.; Berman; Beyond the Rim of the Starlight; Braga; "Cage, The"; Cogley, Samuel T.; "Corbomite Maneuver, The"; "Court Martial"; "Dad's Revenge"; "Deep Space Nine"; "Dogs Themselves, The"; Eaves, John; "Everything I Have Is Yours"; "Far Beyond the Stars"; "Federation and Empire"; "First Contact"; Fontana, D.C.; "From the Moon to the Earth"; Galaxy; "Glow-Worm, The"; "Hazardous Images"; Hamner, Robert; Honest Joe's Used Rockets; Honeymoon on Andoris; "I Have No Voice And I Must Shout"; Incredible Tales; Interstellar Adventure Book Club; "It Came From Outer Space"; Jefferies, Matt; Lectroid Attack!; "Legends of the Ferengi"; "Journey to Babel"; "Loner in a Lonely World"; "Lucifer's Chainsaw"; "Me, Android"; "Metamorphosis"; "Midnight at the Mill"; "Most Fortunate Accident, A"; Phineas Tarbolde and the Nightingale Women; "Please, Take Me With You" (characters); "Quantity of the Monster"; "Questor"; Roddenberry, E.W.; Sisko, Benjamin; Sternbach, Rick; "Strange Martian"; "Third Foundation"; "This Island Mars"; "Trials and Tribble-ations"; "Where No Man Has Gone Before"; "Venusian Chronicles"; "Voyage into the Atom"
- "Far Beyond the Stars" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Far Beyond the Stars" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Far Beyond the Stars" at Wikipedia
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