While enjoying his father's first visit to the station, Captain Benjamin Sisko suddenly finds himself experiencing another life - that of Benny Russell, a science-fiction writer for the magazine Incredible Tales
circa 1953, facing the racial predjudices of the day. Russell comes up with an idea for a story called "Deep Space Nine". As the world of Benjamin Sisko begins to encroach upon that of Benny Russell, he is forced to wonder: which is the dreamer, and which is the dream?
This episode provides examples of:
- Actor Allusion: There's a note from the editor on "Quark"'s desk rejecting the idea of a story about a cheerleader who kills vampires. Armin Shimerman was playing Principal Snyder in Buffy the Vampire Slayer at the time.
- All Just a Dream: Probably.
- And You Were There: The people in Benny Russell's world resemble those in Benjamin Sisko's (except without rubber foreheads, etc. where applicable). In a few instances, Benny even sees a few of them as their DS9 counterparts.
- Call Back: Bashir finds that Sisko is experiencing the same synaptic potentials in his brain as he did during "Rapture".
- Chewing the Scenery: Benny's breakdown when he's fired. He sure seems like he's going to take that table with him. And even though the actor has some Large Ham tendencies, in this case, it works.
- Directed by Cast Member: An especially notable occurrence, given that cast members on Trek shows rarely directed episodes in which their character had a lot to do (it was simply too much work for one person). For this one, the producers decided that only an African-American director could really understand the themes of the episode, so Avery Brooks was allowed to do it.
- It Will Never Catch On: Played for laughs with the Buffy joke and far, far more seriously with Benny's story.
- Mars Needs Women: One of the sketches Roy Ritterhouse comes up with (which the writers then have to create stories for) is of a beautiful, scantily-clad woman being menaced by what looks like a giant praying mantis.
- Mythology Gag: The March 1953 cover◊ of Incredible Tales and the September 1953 cover◊ of Galaxy feature references to the original series. The stories listed on the Incredible Tales cover are all original series episodes, creditied to their actual writers. "Court Martial", listed on the Galaxy cover, is credited to Samuel T. Cogley - Kirk's attorney in that episode - rather than Don M. Mankiewicz, who wrote the actual story and co-wrote the screenplay.
- The cover art for both issues also originates from Star Trek. The Incredible Tales cover features the Delta Vega station from "Where No Man Has Gone Before", and Galaxy has a painting based on Starbase 11 from "Court Martial" and "The Menagerie".
- Theodore Sturgeon (writer, "Shore Leave" and "Amok Time") and Isaac Asimov (science consultant, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and whose idea of a positronic brain inspired the creation of Data) are two names Herbert Rossoff gives as part of Galaxy's roster of writers. Sturgeon was also the writer of the cover story of the real-life September 1953 issue of Galaxy. Another author Rossoff mentions, Ray Bradbury, never had a direct association with Star Trek, but he did have a starship on The Next Generation named after him.
- Precision N Strike/N-Word Privileges: The only time that word is used in the entirety of Star Trek.
- Raygun Gothic: Particularly in the drawing that Roy Ritterhouse does of the space station, which looks just like it would have had the series been created in the Fifties.