On Mondays, I've decided, I will choose an email that seems particularly useful for the class and answer it on the website so you can all bask in the glory of learning. Today's email comes from Shantanu in Chicago, IL.
Dear Prof. Sci-Fi,
What is your favorite Sci-Fi series?
That's an easy one, Shantanu. The finest piece of science fiction I've come across is Deep Space Nine, which is the third series by the Star Trek franchise. They say the third time's the charm, and this one certainly was something for the franchise to be proud of. There are several reasons why DS9 is hands down my favorite sci-fi series:
1. It carried the premise of Star Trek to it's next logical step. You can only explore the potential for humanity's future in a positive light for so long. Eventually, things are going to get complicated. TNG's 4th season started to develop the Trek universe along these lines with Worf/Klingon storylines. But there were hints to the moral ambiguity of Trek's evolved humans even in the old movies with Kirk and Spock. It was time for a series to specifically explore the darker sides of the Trek universe--which is what happened in DS9. The show focused on war, political oppression, greed, and racial conflict. Yet despite these being its major themes, the vast majority of the DS9 senior staff worked together just like the Enterprise did. Most of the conflict came from non-Starfleet characters. In this since, Gene's vision was upheld and yet carried to the next step.
2. The writing focused on character more than plot. This was a critical shift in the Trek style of telling stories. And it worked--once the show started to become more serialized. I began to care about the characters once I could follow how their lives were developing from episode to episode. I can identify with some of their issues. What saved the show from becoming a mere soap opera was the setting. The characters took on a larger-than-life status, becoming symbols that carried over into the real world. This is especially true with the Bajoran/Cardassian storyline. So added onto the fact that the characters were worth getting to know was this almost mythic aspect surrounding the characters. These characters stood for something. This is when the show became more than entertainment: it became art.
3. The baseball metaphor. The whole series, like TNG's Q frame, can be seen in terms of the baseball metaphor Sisko explains to the Prophets in the pilot "Emissary." But that will be a topic for another post.
I hope that answered your question. I highly recommend the series, and despite its serial nature, you can figure out the relationships of the characters fairly well wherever you jump in. My first experience was the 5th season, and I caught on pretty well. Or you could always head over to Wikipedia and get your basic primer here: Deep Space Nine.