There's No Place Like Home

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Title: There's No Place Like Home
Creator: Christine Zdroj-Bichlor
Date(s): May 1995
Medium: print
Topic: Star Trek, Deep Space Nine
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There's No Place Like Home is an essay by Christine Zdroj-Bichlor. It was printed in Face Forward #2 in May of 1995.

The essay's topic is Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, its appeal and comparison to other Treks.


These days I often wonder if I really am a Trek fan, or just hopelessly addicted to Deep Space Nine. Certain episodes of classic Star Trek have fascinated me from childhood. I still love the Romulan commander of "The Enterprise Incident" Romulans had style in those days - and it's always nice to see a woman in charge. I was in college when The Next Generation appeared, and I found myself continually admiring its writing and concepts. I also thought Data was cute and Picard sexy. But before the appearance of DS9, my attitude toward Trek could best be described as interested enough to remember a few episode titles. Affectionate? Yes. Going steady? Definitely. But love? As a certain shapeshifter might observe -- I don't think so. Well, okay - I admit to falling in love with TNG's "Darmok." It's hard to beat the emotional impact of Patrick Stewart telling the story of Gilgamesh to a dying alien — but that was only one episode. Then DS9 introduced me to a certain haunted shapeshifter and a guilt-ridden Bajoran ex-terrorist. Life as I know it has not been the same since.
Sense of history and sense of place is what makes DS9 different from any other Trek incarnation. Some fans have charged that DS9 doesn't qualify as "real Trek" (whatever that may be) because the crew "isn't going anywhere." In one sense this allegation is true. In DS9, we are not passing from point to random point in a galaxy full of extraterrestrial curiosities, looking for new worlds to cultivate for intellectual or industrial use. Our locale has a name. It has a nature that we are constantly aware of. Our heroes can't pack up their tricorders and leave the locals to their problems at the end of each episode. Our heroes are the locals. They don't have they luxury of shooting off into the next star system. Pioneering writers like Ursula LeGuin were among the first to realize that exploring the make-up of an alien setting could be just as interesting as flitting about from planet to planet, sowing your proverbial wild oats like the proverbial James T. Kirk. DS9 bears all the earmarks of what is now called sociological science fiction. What makes it interesting is not concepts, but people — people inhabiting a concrete and believable reality.
In essence, the show is about connectedness, about allegiances both personal and political, and what happens when those allegiances come into conflict. The show demonstrates, lime and again, (he truism that the personal is the political. Its most interesting characters are those whose allegiances shift - like Quark and Garak - or are torn, as with Kira and Odo, and even, to a lesser extent, Sisko. Nearly all the characters suffer from some inner division: Sisko is both Starfleet officer and cowboy diplomat, Bashir, impetuous youth and cool professional. Dax is an old man and a young woman. Odo is alien and humanoid, repressed and passionate. Kira is the skeptic and the believer, the soldier and the seeker of peace. DS9 is about being torn - between governments, between heart and mind, between desire and duty.

But what about concept? I hear the Trek elitists asking. What about exploring strange new worlds? What about the Gene Roddenberry Church of Universal Harmony?

I say, let Voyager take all that stuff and run - I'm sure the results will be entertaining, but my heart of hearts belongs to DS9, the only Trek that dares to name its home and then — boldly -- live in it. Anyone who thinks that this Trek crew "isn't going anywhere" simply hasn't been paying enough attention.