Recap / Star Trek Deep Space Nine S 06 E 13 Far Beyond The Stars
Now this one's a little different.
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 prejudices 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?


  • All Just a Dream:
    • Probably. Sisko does wonder at the end whether his vision of Benny was all fantasy or whether Benny's vision of Sisko is the fantasy. And it was actually intended for a bit to reveal at the end of the series that the entire show (and presumably the rest of the Trek franchise) was a story that Benny wrote.
    • One of Benny's colleagues also suggests this as a solution to get his "unrealistic" story about a black captain printed by adding a dream reveal at the end. The publisher still rejects it.
  • 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.
  • Bittersweet Ending: No question, Benny's plight is a straight-up Downer Ending. But when he wakes up as Sisko again, he feels renewed energy toward "fighting the good fight."
  • Call-Back: Bashir finds that Sisko is experiencing the same synaptic potentials in his brain as he did during "Rapture".
  • Celebrity Paradox: One of the writers Benny mentions when reciting the list for the current issue of Galaxy is Theodore Sturgeon, who also wrote two episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series. So you have an episode of Star Trek mentioning a writer who wrote two episodes of the original series.
  • Chewing the Scenery: Benny's breakdown when he's fired. He sure seems like he's going to take that table with him.
  • Cigar Chomper: Roy Ritterhouse, Martok's character, frequently has a cigar while drawing.
  • Crapsack World: This episode pulls absolutely no punches about 20th century racist regimes, and the toll it takes on Benny and his friends.
  • Framing Device: Sisko's experience as Benny is framed as a vision sent by the Prophets to keep him from losing his resolve.
  • Freak Out!: Big time. All the racist abuse Benny deals with in his daily life comes out in a furious rant and ends up in a nervous breakdown.
  • Heroic B.S.O.D.: Sisko starts going into one when he learns that his friend Quentin Swofford has been killed. The vision from the Prophets is meant to help him work through it.
  • Homage: The writers here knew their '50s science fiction creators...
    • Benny is based on Samuel R. Delany, right down to Delaney's story "Nova," which Analog magazine rejected for having an African-American protagonist.
    • Albert Macklin, the writer of robots who eventually sells a novel to Gnome Press, is Isaac Asimov...three guesses who Isaac first sold I, Robot to. (Asimov was also a science consultant on Star Trek: The Motion Picture and inspired the concept of Data.)
    • Herbert Rossoff, with his brusque demeanor, outspoken liberal politics, and uncompromising dedication to his craft, is Harlan Ellison by any other scream.
    • Kay "K.C. Hunter" Eaton is based on Catherine "C.L." Moore, and the same reasoning underlies the use of initials. For the same reason, she's also a reference to Original Series and TNG writer D.C. Fontana.
    • Jules Eaton, her husband, is Moore's husband Henry Kuttner, who was one of H.P. Lovecraft's proteges.
    • Douglas Pabst is John W. Campbell, both at his best (a dedicated and influential writer and editor) and worst (slightly eccentric and harboring some rather racist views). Campbell was the editor who rejected "Nova."
    • The plot line about Benny's story is also inspired by the real world controversy surrounding the Comics Code Authority's refusal, on openly racist grounds, to allow publication of the EC Comics comic story "Judgement Day", by Al Feldstein and Joe Orlando. The story in question was a Robots Enslaving Robots satire of racism, in which the twist ending was that the disgusted human observer of the racist alien robots, whose face had been hidden in a spacesuit throughout the story, was revealed to be a black man. William Gaines's disgust at this caused EC to finally stop publishing comics altogether.
    • Finally, Rossoff lists the writers in the September 1953 issue of Galaxy when he threatens to join them: Theodore Sturgeon (writer, "Shore Leave" and "Amok Time". Also making it a case of Celebrity Paradox), Isaac Asimov (see above), and Ray Bradbury (who never had a direct association with Star Trek, but he did have a starship on The Next Generation named after him). Sturgeon really was the writer of the cover story of the real-life September 1953 issue of Galaxy.
  • It Will Never Catch On: Played for laughs with the Buffy memo (see Trivia), 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, credited to their actual writers—including "The Cage" to Gene Roddenberry. "Court Martial", listed on the Galaxy cover, is credited to "Samuel T. Cogley," Kirk's attorney in that episode.
    • The Incredible Tales cover also 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".
  • Politically Correct History: Defied, unlike TNG's visit to the past, in which Geordi and Guinan both seem to have no difficulties in Mark Twain's San Fransisco. The widespread societal and institutional racism against African-Americans in the pre-Civil Rights US, both in its subtle and open forms, is openly acknowledged and is central theme in the episode's plot.
  • Precision N Strike/N-Word Privileges: Jimmy tells Benny exactly what white people will "always" see black people as, even in the future. This marks the only time the N-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.
  • Visions of Another Self: Nearly episode-long instance of it.
  • You Cannot Kill An Idea: Invoked almost word-for-word during Benny's rant.