My Promise as a Writer

I promise to entertain you to the best my twisted little mind can manage. I will take you from the light, and into darkness. I might even let you see the sunrise at the end of the journey, but that I can't promise. My stories will sweep the hair from you brow, leave your stomach in knots, and suck the air from your lungs. But no matter how far we descend, I will offer you a fragment of hope to cling to. I will treat you to dark fantasy, science fiction, horror, and anything that falls into the strange and disturbing. Will we re-emerge into the light? Well, that is the point of taking the journey. I hope you will join me on these adventures.

Friday, August 3, 2012

11 REASONS WHY SISKO IS THE BEST STAR TREK CAPTAIN

1. He wore the most hats: officer, full time ambassador to the Bjorans, religious icon, and father. As much as I love Captain James T. Kirk, I regretfully admit there is not much depth to him. He was all about being the captain while exploring love with exotic aliens. He was the playboy of space, and that about sums up the character.

Jean-Luc Picard was a great captain. Like Kirk, he was larger than life, but unlike his predecessor, he focused more on bettering himself through scholarly exploits. He was an explorer of not only the cosmos, but of himself. He also erected a stronger barrier between himself and those who served under him than we saw with Kirk (though this barrier was a bit eroded for dramatic purposes in the four Next Generation films.)

Captain Kathryn Janeway. . . She could have been the best. She should have been the best. My thoughts about Janeway can be read in 11 Reasons Why I Hate Star Trek: Voyager.

Captain Jonathan Archer headed out into space after all the others, though he was the first (damn prequels!) He is clumsy in his trail blazing as can be expected for someone performing a duty that has never been done before (with the exception of the Vulcans and the Andorians. . . and the Klingons. . . and Romulans too.) Ultimately, Archer fits into the mold of the three previously mentioned captains in that he is a captain/explorer.

Buried in the middle of this dog pile of captains is Benjamin Sisko: commanding officer of a space station; explorer of the Gama Quadrant; ambassador to the Bjorans; the Emissary of the Prophets to the Bjorans; and the father of Jake Sisko. Sure, many of the other captains shared in similar duties, but Sisko was the only one of the group to perform all the duties full time, rather than when the need arose. Kirk was the only other captain to have a child, and even then he was not involved in raising the kid (yeah, I know. He didn't know about David until Khan tried to kick his butt for a second time.) Sisko had more jobs to perform at a single time than any other Star Trek captain.


2. He can sing better than Kirk, Spock, and Data . . . combined! There seems to be an alarming trend among Star Trek actors with so many of them attempting to expand their entertainment value through breaking into the music industry. These attempts seem to lie somewhere between professionally cut albums to independent. How these tracks come about are not the problem since many garage bands are more worthy of Justin Beiber's money than he is. The problem is the . . . artistic? . . . choices.


William Shatner destroyed Elton John's haunting Rocket Man. Watching the performance makes you wonder if Shatner was serious, or simply having fun. Looking deeper into his musical career (which is thankfully a shallow pool), and we come to realize it was a serious attempt. And. The. Voice! Shatner sings like he talks. "But. Bones. . . WHAT! Canitbe?"

Leonard Nimoy made me afraid of Hobbits long before I learned how read. I'm talking pooping your pants terrified. After watching his video about Bilbo Baggins, is it any wonder I did not read The Hobbit until I was thirteen? I think not!

Brent Spiner is arguably better than Kirk and Spock when it comes to singing, but not by much. I can not listen to him sing without hearing Data. Perhaps in a live production I'd feel differently, but until that happens I will be reminded of all the TNG episodes in which Data is attempting to explore humanity. Listening to a Spiner track feels like the producers of Star Trek decided to make a few extra bucks by producing a tie-in album. Data sings the classics! The ballads of the 60s and 70s sung by Data! 1980s rock with vocals by Data!

Then comes along Avery Brooks with a voice from the land of milk and honey. I could listen to Captain Benjamin Sisko sing all day long.

3. He knows when compassion is needed, and when to administer the tough love. Sisko was a hard man when events required cold action. Jadzia Dax nearly died of blood loss in the DS9 episode Change of Heart, but survived due to Worf's willingness to abandon a crucial mission in favor of saving the life of the Trill he loved. Though Sisko understood Worf's position, he was not slow in jumping down the Klingon's throat, and questioning Worf's sense of honor.

In For the Uniform, Sisko made an entire planetary atmosphere uninhabitable for most forms of humanoid life, creating hundreds of refugees for no other reason than to capture the turn cloak, Michael Eddington.

As the conflict with the Dominion intensifies, Sisko is ordered by his superiors to remove all Starfleet personnel and equipment from the space station. Soon after the withdrawal, Sisko learns his son, Jake, was left behind. When asked if he intended to turn the Defiant around, and rescue Jake, Sisko basically said his son was man enough to make his own decisions, and live with the consequences.

If that's not enough, Sisko even sent the woman he loved to prison!

But Sisko was not made of ice alone. He had a heart, and that is what drove him to form the decisions he made, and to commit to the actions he took. Numerous times he extended aid to the Dominion when the need arose. He coddled Alexander Rozhenko, Worf's son, and the all around worst Klingon. His vigil over Jadzia as she lay dying in sick bay is heart rending. The situation was what dictated if we saw the Ice Captain or the man with a generous heart. Both aspects of his personality were mesmerizing to watch.

4. He met young Captain Kirk, and got his autograph. Trials and Tribble-ations was a fifth season episode of Deep Space Nine, and is perhaps my favorite episode of the entire franchise (surprising since I normally hate time travel episodes). The melding of the DS9 crew with the TOS crew was ingenious and fun. Near the end of the episode, Sisko does what many fans have done before and after. He approached Captain Kirk for no other reason than to get his autograph. I doubt anyone in a similar situation would have done otherwise.

5. He looks good with hair, bald, with a goatee, and as a Klingon. Avery Brooks is one of those assholes who looks good no matter what. I'm sure a baseball bat to the head would fail when it comes to ruining his good looks (please do not try to prove me wrong should you happen to come face to face with Brooks).

Sisko had the appearance of a tightly groomed Starfleet officer when he first appeared on screen. As the seasons passed he began to shave his head. It was a great choice. Some people look silly with a bald pate, others look better. Sisko definitely looked better. Soon after, Sisko grew a goatee, and the image of space faring bad ass was complete. That is until the need arose for Dr. Bashir to perform a bit of cosmetic surgery in the name of espionage. Sisko came away with the ridges of a Klingon, making him look more intimidating than Worf. Imagine the other Star Trek captains as Klingons. Doesn't work too well, does it?

6. The universe was against him, and he stood tall. Though Sisko carried himself with confidence (as is to be expected of a person in command), he was truly the underdog. Here is a list of the struggles he continually faced:

Factions of the Bajoran government resented his presence.
Starfleet brass was not happy, and rather vocal, over his role as a religious icon for the Bajorans.
Section 31 continually interfered with the running of the station.
The Maquis proved to be an annoyance, forcing him to deal with their anti-Cardassian antics.
The Cardassian's proved to be an annoyance, forcing him to deal with their anti-everyone antics.
The Klingons alternated between wanting his head and agreeing to fight beside him.
The Dominion wanted to destroy him.

All of the Star Trek captains had their share of troubles, but Sisko had more to sort through at a single time than what faced Kirk, Picard, Janeway, and Archer.

7. He captained the Defiant, the coolest ship since Kirk's Enterprise NCC-1701. In 1977, we were introduced to the Millennium Falcon, the coolest spaceship to hit the big screen (you know, back when George Lucas knew how to make a good Star Wars movie). The small ship captained by Han Solo was held in high prestige among many science fiction fans (and still is), but something happened nearly thirty years later. In 1994, season three of Deep Space Nine aired, and Star Trek fans were introduced to the U. S. S. Defiant. Star Trek took the concept of a small ship with impressive fire power and high maneuverability, and out did the Falcon. I was among those who quickly forgot about Han Solo's hamburger inspired ship.

Interesting Federation ships dot the history of Star Trek. There is something pleasing within the look of the awkward ships based on the original Enterprise (Kirks, not Archer's). The list includes The Reliant, seized by Khan; The Excelsior (preferably under the command of Captain Sulu), U. S. S. Grissom, and the U. S. S. Pasture, commanded by Captain Beverly Crusher. The Defiant was the first ship to truly break from the basic design mold, and it was refreshing.

8. Sisko was not merely on the front line of the Dominion War. He WAS the front line. The Dominion ruled space in the Gama Quadrant, a galaxy well beyond Federation controlled star systems, with the wormhole in the Bajoran system providing a bridge between the two sectors. The first obstacle in the conquest of Alpha Quadrant planets and the Federation was the space station Deep Space Nine, under the command of Captain Benjamin Sisko. Starfleet offered little in the way of defense for the quadrant at the commencement of the war. They turned a space station serving as a hub of commerce into a weapons platform, and provided Sisko with one ship, the Defiant. He had limited resources, little to no support, and faced an enemy equally willing to go around or through him. The Federation seemed unwilling to admit war was inevitable. To lose the space station was to lose the war, and to lose Sisko was to lose Deep Space Nine. Without Sisko in command, protection of the Alpha Quadrant would fall to the reckless Klingon Empire and the self serving Romulans. Sisko was the only captain who was indispensable in the crisis which faced him. (Yes, the crew of the Enterprise curtailed a war between the Federation and the Klingon Empire in Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country, but Kirk and McCoy were not instrumental to thwarting the plot. Everything that was needed was found on the Enterprise, as Spock pointed out. Spock rescued his friends not because he needed to, but because he wanted to save them.)

9. He ripped the bottom out of Section 31, the Federation's ugly side. An aspect of Deep Space Nine I cherish is the bold move to show the Federation is not perfect. In the real world there is a perceived need for nations to commit ugly actions. With Deep Space Nine, we see the same is true when we learn of Section 31, the assholes of The Federation. These are black ops types represented by Luther Sloan. They poison people, kidnap, commit murder, and engage in acts of terrorism. Section 31 justifies its actions in the name of preserving The Federation when more acceptable means of diplomacy fail. Sisko devoted himself to destroying the organization the moment he uncovered its existence. That takes some serious courage. Section 31 had the means and amnesty to do with Sisko as they pleased. This was a shadow civil war Sisko and his officers fought independent of The Federation's resources, whereas Sloan had every conceivable weapon at his disposal. This goes beyond the genocide Picard thwarted when Starfleet brass ordered him to release a virus into the Borg Collective. Unlike the Borg issue, we were not permitted to forget about Section 31's activities after they were first introduced. The shadow organization continued to shape the series, and even spilled over into Star Trek: Enterprise.

10. He joined the Wormhole Aliens, and became a god. (I wonder if he drinks with Wesley Crusher at the Human to God Pub?) During Sisko's struggles to maintain possession of Deep Space Nine, he managed to anger the Wormhole Aliens (or Bajoran Prophets if you prefer). Their penalty came at the conclusion of the Dominion War. Sisko was not to finish out his natural life. Instead, he was to join the Wormhole Aliens, and live as they do, outside of time. So basically Sisko's punishment was immortality. . . Tough break! Thinking about what he will miss is sad, but only at first. The Wormhole Aliens proved time and again they know all that occurs in the Bajoran star system. So no, Sisko will never hold his unborn child, or sleep next to his wife, or stand proud when Jake writes his fifth novel. But Sisko will see all of those events. The sadness belongs to his family and friends who will not share those moments with him.

Earlier in the series, the Wormhole Aliens proved their power was unlimited when they wiped out an entire Dominion fleet in less than a second. Sisko is now eternal and all powerful in his new home. No other Star Trek captain can make that claim. Both Kirk and Picard rejected the offers when such powers were made available to them. I wonder if Sisko would have rejected godhood too if the choice had been his.

11. He told the second favored Star Trek captain, Jean-Luc Picard, to go piss on himself. Star Trek: The Next Generation had a few more seasons remaining and was still going strong when Deep Space Nine first aired. The original episode of DS9 contains a few moments of torch passing between Jean-Luc Picard and Benjamin Sisko. In their first encounter, Sisko is not shy in telling Picard his beloved Federation sucked, but he did not stop there. He proceeded to remind Picard of being assimilated into Locutus of Borg, that he, Sisko, was on the front lines of the Battle of Wolf 359, and that Picard was responsible for the death of Sisko's wife, Jennifer. Already fans of the franchise had spent hours debating who was the better Star Trek captain: Kirk or Picard. And here comes Sisko, telling the Federation poster boy what he can do with a long stick. I cannot think of a better way than to tell an audience to prepare to dump preconceived notions.

Related Links:
11 Reasons Why I Hate Star Trek: Voyager

William Shatner sings Rocket Man
Leonard Nimoy sings Ballad of Bilbo Baggings
Brent Spiner sings Rosie
Avery Brooks sings The Best is Yet to Come


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Shadows Beyond the Flames for the Kindle

Shadows Beyond the Flames for the Nook
J. M. Tresaugue Books

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2 comments:

  1. Also the whole Federation is his crazy invention/hallucination in the reality where he is a two bit, not unpleasantly crazy Sci-Fi writer. (In the best episode of Star Trek ever.)

    ReplyDelete