A different kind of Star
Trek television series debuted in 1993. Deep Space Nine
was set not on a starship but a space station near a postcolonial
planet still reeling from a genocidal occupation. The crew was led by
a reluctant Black American commander and an extraterrestrial first
officer who had until recently been an anticolonial revolutionary.
DS9 extended Star Trek’s tradition of critical social
commentary but did so by transgressing many of Star Trek’s previous
taboos, including religion, money, eugenics, and interpersonal
conflict. DS9 imagined a twenty-fourth century that was less a
glitzy utopia than a critical mirror of contemporary U.S. racism,
capitalism, imperialism, and heteropatriarchy.
years after its premiere, DS9 is beloved by critics and fans
but remains marginalized in scholarly studies of science fiction.
Drawing on cultural geography, Black studies, and feminist and queer
studies, A Different Trek is the first scholarly
monograph dedicated to a critical interpretation of DS9’s
allegorical world-building. If DS9 has been vindicated
aesthetically, this book argues that its prophetic, place-based
critiques of 1990s U.S. politics, which deepened the foundations of
many of our current crises, have been vindicated politically, to a
degree most scholars and even many fans have yet to fully appreciate.