Monday 25 March 2024

The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko

Producing an autobiography of a character who has transcended the physical plane has to be one of the most difficult assignments to come from this book series.

Edited (wink wink) by Derek Tyler Attico, the story of Benjamin Lafayette Sisko is the one that I’ve been personally waiting for since the books first appeared. 

So how does one circumvent the obvious flaw that Sisko ‘can’t’ write this book? Well I won’t ruin that little twist but suffice to say it makes this volume extremely unique when it comes to how these have been written to date.

And if you’re wanting this to be a detailed first person account of Deep Space Nine, be prepared for a wait and also for it not to take up that much of the book. This really does go right back to the start of Sisko’s life. This autobiography provides a deep dive into three generations  of the Sisko line packed into the hotel/restaurant/home that exists in New Orleans. There’s even time to offer glimpses at older history emphasising the importance of family bonds that exist not just in that structure but also down the years in Ben’s Starfleet journey. 

Covering everything from Sisko's childhood, coupled with it's distinct lack of technology, Attico's work follows a path from adventurous and highly inquisitive youth through to maturing teen and into Starfleet officer. The journey feels natural and the level of detail not only traces its roots back into episodes of Deep Space Nine but into a deeper cultural exploration that hasn't been as apparent in other works from this ongoing series.

Attico's research into Sisko is certainly extensive but it doesn't suffocate the story. Rather than relying on just the material we've been drip fed through 176 episodes of the show, the reader can explore Ben's first encounter with a transporter or a tricorder with the same sense of wonder that the character himself does. 

But that feeling of family and personal bonds is always present. There is loss, not only of his wife at the battle of Wolf 359 but earlier in respects to grandparents and his mother as well as more complex relationships with his sister and younger twin brothers. 

Indeed, a good three quarters of the autobiography is filled with events that viewers and fans of the show will not have seen or were just hat-tipped such as Cal Hudson meeting his future wife or the way in which Sisko became Captain (later Admiral) Layton's first officer on the USS Okinawa

The clarity of events pre-DS9 is just staggering; the construction of the Defiant for instance brings both Leah Brahms and Cmdr Shelby into play while Attico has brilliantly woven in the single episode character of Tryla Scott (TNG's Conspiracy) both logically and seamlessly.  This feels like the true defining of the Ben Sisko character that, for a good part of DS9 was actually avoided although perhaps not consciously. 

Yes, there were nods to his sister, visits to the Sisko restaurant and the occasional appearance of Brock Peters' Joseph Sisko but for the most part Atttico has had a clean slate/ sandbox to play in and explore. Opinion; he's done it with aplomb and style. There's still enough legroom in here for future canon events to sneak into the narrative but this does show the development of the person before he was the Emissary and commander of Deep Space Nine. In the cases of both Janeway and Picard we've been privy to key events from earlier in their lives whether by visions of parents or Q interventions but Sisko avoided all of that bar two moments in Emissary that added meat to his back story.

DS9ers will adore this book which not only explores Sisko's backstory but actually utilises soome (I'm reliably informed) of Derek Tyler Attico's own personal history and experiences to flesh out Starfleet's finest captain (fight me on it!).

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