Following the loss of a friend in the Dominion War, Benjamin Sisko is plagued by visions of another life. In this life he is the science fiction author Benny Russell living in New York in 1953. His colleagues and other characters that appear in Sisko's vision bear the likeness of people from Sisko's life on the station, the aliens being remodeled to humans. His editor Pabst is the human version of Odo. Benny is writing a story about a space station in the far future, commanded by Benjamin Sisko. But Pabst refuses to publish it as he anticipates that the readers wouldn't put up with a black commander. Encouraged by his girl-friend Cassie (Kasidy Yates) and a priest (Joseph Sisko) Benny carries on nonetheless. Albert (O'Brien) devises a twist that actually the story is supposed to be just a dream which would make it acceptable. But the situation aggravates when a black teenager named Jimmy (Jake Sisko) is killed by the police (Dukat and Weyoun) and Benny is about to lose his job. Benny collapses, is taken to a hospital and wakes up as Benjamin Sisko on Deep Space 9.
Errors and Explanations
- Mike Konczewski on Wednesday, December 16, 1998 - 2:03 pm: I realize this was a vision from the Pah-wraith, so you have to take the story line with a grain of salt. Regardless, I think the storyline shows how the writers of Star Trek don't know a lot about the history of science fiction. Okay, so we have Bennie, a black SF writer on the staff of 1950's science fiction magazine. The publishers won't reveal to the readers that Benny is black (or Kira's character is a woman). They are so predjudiced that rather than print his stories featuring a black hero, they destroy that month's issue.
A dynamic story. So what's the problem? It's misleading. First, 50's SF magazines didn't have staff writers. They got stories from freelancers (you don't think Asimov and Heinlein were on staff, do you?). Occasionally the editors would write a story or two (under a pen name) to fill out an issue, but they never had staff writing the entire issue. Secondly, almost no SF writer in the 50's made a living from just writing SF. Either they wrote for different genres, or they had a second job. Third, most SF mags were operated on a shoestring. It would have bankrupted the magazine to pulp an entire run of one issue. They would have rejected the story before it got that far. Fourth, while I wasn't able to come up with a black SF from the 50's, there were several female writers active and producing under their own name--Judith Merrill, Zenna Henderson, Leigh Bracket, Anne McCaffrey, Kate Wilheim, to name a few. Fifth, I've read SF stories from the 50's with black protagonists; Eric Frank Russell's Jay Score series come immediately to mind. Sixth, I can't believe that Benny would have freaked out just because he was turned down by one magazine. During the time period Benny was writing (I figure about 1953-56), there were about a dozen SF magazines being published, from Astounding Science Fiction to Galaxy to Amazing. A working writer doesn't stop with the first rejection; s/he goes to the next magazine.
I guess Benny's behaivor make more sense when you realize the story was written by TV writers. The environment pictured in Far Beyond the Stars is more like the process teleplay writers go through. Too bad they didn't realize it wouldn't transfer. Chris Thomas on Monday, February 22, 1999 - 5:41 am: Benny's freaking out and the whole thing is actually a whole metaphor for Sisko and the Dominion War - evidenced at the start when Sisko tells his father there seems to be no future and maybe he should throw in the towel. The whole thing is about Sisko and, like all dreams, his higher self is trying to tell him something - he just has to interpret it.
- Norman on Wednesday, February 24, 1999 - 6:00 am: Why doesn't Jennifer appear in this "dream"? She's such a prominent person in his life (At least have a picture of her, if you cannot get the actress). Of course, for that matter, we could also talk about Eddington, Curzon, etc. but you know what I mean. Seniram 11:49, October 22, 2017 (UTC) Jennifer, Eddington and Curzon are part of Sisko’s past, and therefore not entirely relevant.
- Cableface on Wednesday, January 20, 1999 - 2:11 pm: I'm watching this episodes in Ireland and Sky were good enough to have a "technical problem" for the first fifteen minutes, so could someone please tell me why Sisko was having these dreams?From what I did see though, it was a brilliant episode. It was cool to see what everyone looked like without the make-up.It showed us that the creators can do a good episode based on good acting and storyline without mega special fx( though they are cool).And, it showed us what a good actor Avery Brooks is.(That is his name i think)When he's playing Sisko, he's big, he's strong, he's unflappable and calm under fire.But in this ep, for the first time, we see him as a totally different guy.He's a small , frightened man.He does it brilliantly, and I found his speech when the editor fires him really moving.Top job. Mike Konczewski on Thursday, January 21, 1999 - 6:54 am:The reason for the dreams were never explained (in this episode at least). Sisko started seeing images from 1950's Earth on DS9, then he was suddenly on 1950's Earth as writer Benny, with no apparent memory of his future life other than as the plot for a science fiction novel. I think the episode from next season, "Images in the Sand", establishes that these were fantasies caused by the Pah-wraiths, in an effort to stop Sisko from fufilling his role as the Emisary. Matthew Patterson on Wednesday, February 24, 1999 - 9:24 pm: Now just hold on a minute! Just because the one image was caused by the pah-wraiths doesn't mean the both of them were! Just compare them: FBTS has mostly "good" actors. IITS has one "bad" actor. FBTS has mostly no negative messages, beyond the obvious racial thing. IITS has Dr. Wyckoff trying to convince Benny to wipe out all of DS9! FBTS's visions weren't meant to keep Sisko from doing anything. IITS was meant to keep Sisko from finding the Orb of the Emissary and freeing the Prophets. Clearly, IITS's visions were caused by the pah-wraiths in order to keep Sisko from freeing the Sarah Sisko Prophet and allowing it to free the rest of the Prophets; but FBTS's were meant to teach Sisko something that he and us can only guess at. I personally think that the Prophets were trying to show Sisko that even though the Dominion was temporarily winning the war, the concepts and ideals espoused by the Federation could never be destroyed. This is the only way I can think of to explain the incredibly moving "You can't destroy an idea!" speech within the larger context of DS9. (Wow, that was incredibly deep for so late at night. I'd better go lay down for a while.) sitroom1 on Wednesday, February 24, 1999 - 10:06 pm: I agree. The first Benny Russel vision could have been sent by the prophets to help Sisko through a difficult time. Then the second one sent by the Pah Wraiths to confuse Sisko. It could be easily argued that the Pah Wraiths somehow knew about the first vision and used it to their own advantage. Mike Konczewski on Thursday, February 25, 1999 - 3:15 pm: I would argue that the first vision from FBTS was sent by the Pah wraiths to confuse Sisko. Possibly the Prophets partially intervened; that's why there were some good characters. After Dukat temporarily turned off the wormhole, the Pah wraiths became more poweful. When it looked like Sisko was going to find the orb that would re-release the Prophets, the Pah wraith sent an even more confusing vision in IITS to trick Sisko into destroying the Orb. Luckily, it failed. Matthew Patterson on Thursday, February 25, 1999 - 5:27 pm: I still doubt it! The pah- wraiths were all entrapped until one got out and the Kira-Prophet fought it and Kai WIn flooded the Promenade with radiation and the other one was freed by Dikat and he was the one who got the Prophets trapped and the wraiths freed! I doubt the pah-wraiths could have managed to send messages to Sisko while they were all trapped wherever! David Hensley on Thursday, August 05, 1999 - 9:33 am: Pah-Wraith vs. Prophets - who sent the vision? I say, the Prophets. It does show Sisko, as Matt Patterson said before, that you can't destroy an idea. It also shows Sisko that he must walk the path the prophets have laid down for him. In a greater sense, Benny Russell espouses the absolute highest ideas that Star Trek, and all hopeful people, stand for. He sees a better future, and refuses to let anyone stomp on his vision. Pabst is the pragmatic (boo) force in our society, saying we must see what is, not what could be. But to paraphrase the historian Howard Zinn, all great changes in society were brought about by those who operated under what they wanted to be, not what "really' was. Mark Wells on Tuesday, November 16, 1999 - 1:54 am:David, I like your interpretation, but I must point out the irony of Sisko the idealist in this episode contrasted with Sisko the ruthless pragmatist just five episodes later. So much for "you can't destroy an idea". In In the Pale Moonlight, he destroys the idea himself. Rene on Thursday, December 28, 2000 - 1:39 pm: In this episode, the vision had to have been sent by the Prophets. Why? Because look at what it accomplished...At the beginning of the episode, Sisko was ready to give up and was letting all the stree get to him. At the end, he resolves to continue fighting. Josh M on Sunday, December 31, 2000 - 12:41 pm:I think that Sarah told him in the second episode of the seventh season that it was sent by the Pah-Wraiths to try and fool him into thinking that he was really a 50s writer so they wouldn't have to worry about him. Of course, that may have just been where he was in the nut house with the human based on Damar
- norman on Tuesday, March 09, 1999 - 5:10 pm: Perhaps she ended up only being popular back in the late nineteenth century and ended up having no literary merit (or is waiting to be "rediscovered" in the Literary Canon) but when Benny mentions the Great African American writers he knows, he forgot to mention Guinan! (Who was considered "good" and well-renowned sixty years earlier). I guess yet another example of the racist society in how writers are remembered. Mike Konczewski on Wednesday, March 10, 1999 - 7:50 am:Guinan is neither African nor American (even though I know she is played by Whoopi Goldberg, but that's "reality"). She's an alien. Of course, she could have written under a pen name. norman on Wednesday, March 10, 1999 - 10:45 am: I take that nitpick back. If Star Trek is in Benny's "fantasy world," then Guinan would be part of that, too. So he wouldn't mention her.
- Anonymouse on Monday, January 08, 2001 - 8:09 am: The details of "Old New York" bothered me a bit though. Why was Worf/Willie playing for the Giants? margie on Thursday, February 01, 2001 - 12:21 pm: The Giants were in New York until the end of the 50's. I think they moved to California in 1957 or so.
- Ratbat on Wednesday, February 28, 2001 - 9:48 pm: I'm not quite up on the rules of faux-1950s-vision bigotry, but… Why were the female KC and the black Benny asked to stay home on photo day, but the Asian Julian allowed to stay? Or were only certain people of colour frowned upon? Mark Stanley on Thursday, May 03, 2001 - 5:54 pm: I have three possible explanations.
This being in Sisko's head, perhaps he actually doesn't think about the colour of Julian Bashir's skin, and simply thinks of him as British? After all, the dream was about and for Sisko, not Julian. If the Prophets needed to get Julian to do something, I'm sure they'd use *his* subconsious, but here, he's not that important. Sisko's surface impressions of him would be enough to create his role in the dream.
Or, alternatively, in the "real world" of the dream, perhaps black and white photos make Jules look white enough to "pass"? (I have some B&W photos of Sid, some printed in a fan club newsletter, some pro photos taken on-set. He looks well-tanned, but if the attempt were made to pass him off as white in a B&W photo, it would probably succeed, especially if people had never seen him in colour, and were predisposed to *assume* he was white, as the readers of Jules' work in this episode would.)
Or perhaps racism didn't extend *in the same way* to light brown people with British passports? There would be racism, but it might manifest more in seeing Jules as exotic and foreign and not quite real, as opposed to seeing him as trash. (I don't know nearly enough about American history of this era to say for certain. This is a guess based on much older literature, and from Britain and Canada, not America.)
CdnTim 1653 EST 17Feb2021 - I think Bashir could definitely be passing. Remember, he writes under the name "Julius Eaton", his picture is not obviously non-white (as a naive preteen when DS9 first aired, I primarily identified Julian as British rather than anything else, for what it's worth). Part of the reason that pen names like D.C. Fontana worked is that the people who most cared were most likely to just assume that only a white man could write that well.
- According to the startrek.com episode list, the provisional stardate for this episode is 51452.