Star Trek: Deep Space Nine

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Name: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine
Abbreviation(s): DS9
Creator: Rick Berman, Michael Piller
Date(s): 1993-1999
Medium: Television series
Country of Origin: United States
External Links:
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Contents

Deep Space Nine was the second spin-off of the Star Trek franchise. It is arguably the most ethnically and gender diverse of the franchise with multiple characters of color and female characters in lead positions.

Show Synopsis

Commander Benjamin Sisko (played by Avery Brooks) is the commander of a Federation space station known as Deep Space Nine. On the edge of the Alpha Quadrant, he and the station's inhabitants must deal with old resentments, new and fragile alliances, and threats from unknown forces outside of Federation space.

Whereas the other Star Trek shows dealt more with exploration, by its nature DS9 was more sedentary. Concentrating less on boldly going and more on dealing with the ramifications of changing alliances and reconstruction, DS9 dealt strongly with political intrigue, religion, and conflicting loyalties.

The cast of characters includes a mix of Starfleet officers, private Federation citizens, and others, some of whom had also appeared on Star Trek: TNG: Sisko's son Jake, the Bajoran liaison officer Kira Nerys, Lieutenant Commander Jadzia Dax, Doctor Bashir, Miles O'Brien, Worf, the Changeling Constable Odo, the Ferengi businessman Quark, and later Ezri Dax. Because of the show's complex plot arcs, there are a large number of significant recurring characters, including the Cardassian tailor Garak, Quark's brother Rom, Quark's nephew Nog, the former commander of DS9 Gul Dukat, Miles's wife Keiko, and the Bajoran spiritual leader Kai Winn Adami.

The Competition with Babylon 5

"There was also a rivalry with another popular and critically acclaimed television series, Babylon 5, created and produced by J. Michael Straczynski for Warner Bros. The two productions, which ran largely concurrently, were observed to be so similar that Babylon 5 fans accused Paramount, to whom Straczynski had previously pitched his series, of plagiarism. Considering how fellow Trek alumni like Walter Koenig and Andreas Katsulas had major roles in the rival series, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry agreed to a guest appearance as a gesture of goodwill to encourage a reconciliation between the fandoms." [1]

Fannish Reaction

While many enjoyed the dense and multiple storylines, a number of fans found it difficult to follow or boring in the early days. The show was also much darker in its depiction of both the future in general and the Federation in particular than either the original Star Trek or Star Trek: The Next Generation. Some fans felt it let down the Trek franchise; for example, Ridley Scott writes:

Deep Space 9 was significantly different from all preceeding Treks: the setting was an abandoned Cardassian station in the Bajoran system (as opposed to the Federation flagship roaming about the Galaxy); there was some friction between characters (mainly between Starfleet and non-Starfleet personel, as opposed to the extreme camaradry displayed in previous Treks); the characters weren‘t exploring actively (going somewhere unknown in a ship), but passively (hanging at the mouth of the wormhole, waiting for the unknown to fly through); the series is much more action oriented (specially starting from the third season) than any past Trek. Rick Berman and Michael Piller comitted one fatal mistake: to treat STAR TREK like a science-fiction show. STAR TREK is so much more than just a science-fiction show that what they left out (the morals, the ethics, the guiding dream) made Deep Space 9 a failiure, at least according to me.[2]

In the early days, there were many rumors and a fan push for GLBT representation on the show, which seemed to fall mostly on deaf ears. However, in the fourth season episode called "Rejoined", Jadzia Dax, a character from a race which carried genderless symbiotes which were passed to another upon each person's death, meets up with the former wife of her symbiote and attempts to rekindle the relationship. This episode featured the first same-sex kiss in Star Trek canon.

Online and Offline Fandom

Begining in the early 90s, the fandom straddled fandom's migration to the internet, having many stories and discussions both online in the Usenet forums and websites, and offline in zines.

Some early anecdotal comments regarding the Internet:

In her column, "Netchatter," a fan in 1995 tries to ease the way for others into the new realm of online: "... sometimes a crabapple creeps into the feast. I want to sincerely apologize to my friends who acted upon certain recommendations I made in this column and were subjected to personally unpleasant and in some cases hurtful communications in the course of attempting to join in organized electronic fandom. Please, don't think that this is the norm on the Net. Check out the newsgroups. Yes, there are a fair share of obnoxious people and time-wasting posts...but there are also many free-ranging, intelligent, thought-provoking and fun posts as well. Whatever happens, please don't let negative experiences sour you on net fandom! Keep looking, with other listservs, Usenet groups, forums and other private e-mail discussion :-). There is a big world of fandom out there!" [3]

Another fan in 1995 reports on the results of a DS9 fan fiction survey she had conducted.[4] "Half the respondents were new to the fan fiction arena (in the last three years or so), myself included. Since almost all the responses were generated off the Internet, a lot of the authors claimed that after getting on-line, they were intrigued by the stories they found there, and wanted to try their hand at it. Two writers stated that they didn't realize others wrote fan fiction until they attended a convention or got on-line." [5]

A fan in 1996 comments: "What you have to realize is that online fandom is a VERY small part of overall Trek (or DS9 for that matter) fandom. Most people don't have access to or own their own computer and those of us who are online (myself included) tend to forget that fandom at large is not on the Internet. I personally do not think of the Internet as, to use a statistical term, unbiased estimator of how good or how bad the show is doing. That's what Nielsen ratings are for." [6]

For an overview of Star Trek fandom's online activities from the early 1990s, including show commentary, episode guides and fan fiction, visit the textfile directory/WebCite.

Pairings

Bashir is the most popular character among fanwriters, and Garak/Bashir is the most popular slash pairing. Other common slash pairings include Bashir/O'Brien. Het pairings are more varied, but the common ones include Odo/Kira, Julian/Jadzia and Kira/Dukat. Femslash is relatively rare, with Kira/Jadzia probably being the pairing most commonly written.

A fan in 1995 summarizes what folks on the Internet were saying at the time about pairings: "Two new polls announced their results in the last few weeks. One enterprising Netter held a "best ST character" survey, and Sid's fandom rang loudly. Doctor Julian Bashir was the highest-ranked DS9 castmember, at number seven overall. The only other DS9ers in the top ten were Odo at number 9 and Dax, tied for 10th with Montgomery Scott. In order, the other Niners were; Garak, 11th; Sisko, 12th; Kira. 15th; Quark, 16th; O'Brien, 17th; Gul Dukat, 22nd; Vedek Bareil, 23 rd; Morn, 25th; Nog, 26th; and Keiko, Jake and Rom didn't register :-}. The other noteworthy poll was an interesting counterpoint. It was the Cutest Couple Contest, and the diversity of the Net was definitely in evidence here. The top vote-getters were a Voyager couple (Tom Paris and B'Elanna Torres), the second place couple were from TNG (Bev Crusher and Captain Picard); and the third place vote getters were three couples, including the highest vote-takers from the Station, Jadzia Dax and Julian Bashir. Obviously, there are a lot of die-hard romantics among the Niner Net crowd. Other multiple vote-snagging couples were: Dax and Sisko, Dax and Kira, Bashir and Garak, Bashir and Tom Paris, and Kira and Odo. I guess someone liked "Heart of Stone." These results were very much in keeping with the majority of the fan fiction that has been posted in the last several months as well. Fans are a fascinating bunch." [7]

Fanzines

Kira Nerys/Odo:

Garak/Bashir slash:

For a list of more fanzines for DS9 fanzines:

Archives

Character or Pairing Focused

Communities

Fan Clubs

Resources/External Sites

  • The DS9 Encyclopedia & Lexicon - Tracy Hemenover's data intensive website with character bios, episode guides and descriptions of all sorts of show trivia."This site is for fanfic writers, trivia buffs, and anyone else who (like me) loves the series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine."

References

  1. Memory Alpha Wiki
  2. Ridley Scott's Star Trek Page: DS9 Page (accessed 23 May 2012)
  3. from Multi-Species Medicine #18
  4. she admits her pool was somewhat small; she had 25 respondents
  5. from Multi-Species Medicine #14
  6. from Multi-Species Medicine #27
  7. from "Netchatter" by Brenda S. Antrim in Multi-Species Medicine #18
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