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Old February 24 2010, 05:23 AM   #1
DigificWriter
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Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

I was just struck by what I think is a rather interesting and intriguing question: what might Deep Space Nine and Voyager look like as stand-alone sci-fi franchises unconnected to Star Trek? What could you do with/to the premises of both series that would allow them to exist as standalone properities? How might taking away the 'Star Trek' affiliation change their overall narrative?

Note 1: Please don't make the "Babylon 5" comment with regards to this question and DS9. Yes, we're pretty much all painfully aware of the similarities, but that doesn't automatically mean that a standalone DS9 would've been like what Babylon 5 was.

Note 2: I'm still contemplating this question myself, and will chime in with my own thoughts in a bit, but, in the meantime, please chime in and contribute to this discussion.
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Old February 24 2010, 07:44 AM   #2
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

I hate to say it, but by limiting the Babylon 5 thing you're essentially ignoring what DS9 probably would have looked like The question of what Voyager would have looked like is more interesting. I think Voyager may have ended up looking like BSG, only without alot of the metaphysical stuff that BSG tossed in every once in a while. That being said, I dont think we would have seen one over all enemy within a non-franchise voyager. Rather, we probably would have seen short arcs taking place over various regions of space. Almost like how the kazon were a threat for a little while and then as they moved through space the borg became a threat.
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Old February 24 2010, 08:17 AM   #3
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Voyager probably would have been more interesting (forcing the writers to develop their characters and connections with a "federation" (for a lack of a better word) we've never seen). DS9, on the other hand, benefited a lot from an established universe, so I think DS9 would have been at a disadvantage.
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Old February 24 2010, 09:37 AM   #4
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

As Clint G said, DS9 would probably have been like B5.

Similarly, had Voyager not been under the Star Trek banner, it may have ended up like BSG. But not as dark.
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Old February 24 2010, 09:40 AM   #5
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

I'd say more like Andromeda.
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Old February 24 2010, 10:05 AM   #6
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Neither show would have lasted seven years, or been as appealling visually as they were (Andromeda and Babylon 5 are likely go-to examples here). DS9 would be unable to try and bolster its ratings by including Klingons and Worf; VOY could not do the same either with the Borg and Seven of Nine.

Writing-wise, perhaps more freedom, which would be useful in VOY's case, but no great improvements. I think VOY would have always been a mostly standalone show.
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Old February 24 2010, 12:44 PM   #7
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

I think out of all the series that Enterprise would have benefited more from being stand-alone and not a Star Trek universe. Obviously you would have lost the Vulcan part with T'pol, but you could have come up with another alien race to be the equivalent. Then the rest of the show could have been about new discoveries and not having to worry about introducing alien races that everyone knew about from 4 previous tv series (+ 10 movies).

Hell a lot of people would say the best years of the show were when they were dealing with an alien race(Xindi) that we had never even heard about during all the shows that chronologically took place after Enterprise.

If they had Manny Coto and a blank slate from the start I think it could have been a pretty good show.
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Old February 24 2010, 03:26 PM   #8
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Great discussion thus far, guys. Here's my own thoughts:
DS9
While B5 and DS9 have a lot of similarities, as noted, I don't necessarily think that removing the Star Trek connection would've automatically forced DS9 to rely on those similarities. One of the significant differences that I have noticed between the two series - B5 and DS9 - is that DS9 relied more heavily on the socio-religious angle throughout its entire run (even during the 'war years') while B5 slanted more heavily towards the socio-political, and could best be described, IMO, as "The West Wing in space". I don't think this 'focus difference' would change if you were to remove DS9's connections to the Star Trek franchise; in fact, I think it would become even more prevalent and relevant without the Star Trek affiliation than it was with it.

Voyager
I decided to participate in a discussion in the Voyager forums about whether or not that series' premise held it back, and something that I realized as a result which is that, although it was ultimately the execution that doomed Voyager, the series would never have been able to reach the maximum potential of its premise even if it had been executed perfectly because of the narrative barriers and restrictions put in place automatically because of its connections to the ST franchise. That's one of the benefits of doing the series as a standalone project: the potential of its premise would've increased if you removed the Star Trek connection. Doing Voyager as a stand-alone series would allow you to more fully explore some of the most interesting aspects of the premise - such as the problems of crew integration and the moral and ethical questions that would arise simply because of the situations the ship found itself in - since you wouldn't be encumbered by audience preconceptions about what you could and couldn't get away with.

As far as relying on 'stunt casting', I think that, depending on how you'd established the socio-political makeup of the galaxy and universe that a standalone DS9 inhabited, you'd still be able to do a lot of the things that DS9 did, including bringing in 'outside characters' (such as a character in the same vein as Worf) as part of 'sweeps' or to try and bolster the series' ratings and/or narrative potential. The same thing applies to a standalone Voyager, although, in that case, you'd have to cast a bit of a wider net in doing so since you would have to be extremely conscious of not creating characters, concepts, and situations that felt like they were blatant rip-offs of some of the characters, concepts, and situations that Voyager was able to rely on and utilize because of its connections to the Star Trek universe (such as the Borg and Seven of Nine). You could probably bring in characters, concepts, and situations that were similar archetypally, but they would have to be based entirely on - and fit within the parameters of - the universe that you had established a standalone Voyager as taking place in.

In closing, I find it neat that somebody brought in the idea of doing Enterprise as a standalone series, because it is also something that I thought of, although, in the case of a standalone Enterprise, I think your biggest hurdle would be overcoming comparisons to both the Star Trek franchise as well as Babylon 5, since of all the more 'arc-focused' ST series (it, Voyager, and DS9), it's the most socio-pollitically driven, and bases a lot of its narrative 'oomph' on showing the genesis of concepts that are inherently connected to the ST franchise, but that also have a good deal of similarities with some of the themes of Babylon 5.

Keep the discussion going, and I'll be back later (hopefully with the genesis of a 'series bible' for a standalone version of DS9).
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Old February 24 2010, 06:12 PM   #9
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Sorry for the double post, but wanted to get my concept for a standalone version of DS9 out there for public consumption.

DS9
The Premise
DS9 is set in mankind’s future, in a universe where our natural curiosity led to a protracted exploration of the galaxy, which in turn led to the discovery of the existence of other intelligent life-forms and the establishment of a unified ‘intergalactic federation’ – known as the Federation of Unified Planets, or simply the Federation - comprised of our planet and several others. However, all is not peaceful in this ‘unified galaxy’, as several of the alien species humanity encountered proved to be either downright hostile or simply uninterested in our gestures of peace. The crux of the series revolves around the establishment of a space station located in orbit of a recently discovered alien world whose inhabitants – known as the Taaljorans - have just liberated themselves from 100 years of violent oppression at the hands of another alien race, known as the Xarkanians. The station’s initial purpose is to protect the Taaljorans from Xarkanian attempts to reconquer them, as well as to provide both physical and political support to the newly installed Taaljoran provisionary government. However, the discovery of a wormhole leading to a completely unexplored region of the galaxy shifts the station’s purpose, turning it into the ‘gateway’ to this new and unexplored ‘frontier’ of space, and placing it at the crest of a new ‘wave’ of intergalactic exploration.

The Station
DS9 was constructed by the Xarkanians to serve as a processing plant for the minerals mined from Taaljora’s surface, and was maintained for many years by a largely untrained workforce of enslaved Taaljorans. As a result, it is an aging, broken-down hunk of metal that is on the verge of falling apart, and is only utilized as a base of operations for the Federation personnel assigned to it because of its proximity to Taaljora. Its corridors are badly lit and in some cases barely inhabitable, and the Xarkanians have in some cases completely leased areas of the station to entire species who are less than thrilled by the Federation takeover, and reluctant to allow its personnel access to their ‘domains’.

The Characters
Benjamin Sisko
Benjamin Sisko is the Federation officer assigned to command DS9, but he comes to this assignment with reluctance. Grieving from the death of his wife some months earlier and struggling to adjust to life as a single father, Sisko hails from Earth and is assigned to DS9 primarily because he possesses extensive diplomatic skills which will be required if the station’s crew is to succeed in its mission.

Nerys Kira
A Taaljoran, Nerys Kira is assigned to DS9 to serve as the station’s second-in-command and a liaison between the Federation and the newly installed Taaloran provisionary government. However, she carries a lot of emotional baggage, and finds herself deeply conflicted by the Taaljoran provisionary government’s faith in her, given that she was less than subtle in expressing her outrage over their decision to invite the Federation to Taaljoran space and their decision to attempt to reach out in peace to the Xarkanians, for whom she harbors deep-set feelings of hatred.

Miles O'Brien
Miles O'Brien is the Federation officer tasked with serving as DS9’s chief engineering officer, although his official title is actually ‘Chief of Operations’; the assignment to DS9 is a marked change from his previous assignment, which was as the transporter chief and secondary engineering officer aboard the Federation starship Defiant. O'Brien is a fairly jovial fellow who finds himself constantly frustrated by the station’s systems, used as he is to the smoother design and workings of a starship. Maxwell has other reasons to be concerned about and frustrated by the station’s systems, given that he has brought his wife and 3-year-old daughter with him to this new assignment. Like Benjamin Sisko and Nerys Kira, O'Brienl has a traumatic past associated with the Xarkanians, as he was forced to kill a Xarkanian officer who ambushed him during a planetary mission early in his career, an incident that forever changed him.

Jadxia Dax
Jadxia (pronounced ‘Jad-Z-a’) is the station’s chief science officer. A young alien, her species is comprised of two separate but interconnected beings: a slug-like creature who exists in symbiosis with a humanoid host body; because her symbiotic self has a far longer lifespan than her humanoid host self, she possesses knowledge far beyond what her relative practical inexperience would indicate. She also has a unique relationship with Benjamin Sisko, in that she possesses memories of a lifelong friendship with him, courtesy of her symbiotic self, even though her humanoid host self has never actually met him.

Odo
Odo is a Changeling, an alien being capable of taking humanoid form but whose natural state of existence is actually a gelatinous liquid. Odo had been serving as DS9’s chief of security during its tenure as a Xarkanian mining outpost, and is invited to retain those duties when the Federation arrives to assume control of the station. He has a close relationship with Nerys Kira, for whom he also harbors a secret romantic affection, and only allows his curmudgeonly façade to drop when he is in her presence; this affection also brings him into intense conflict with Quark at times, since the unctuous bartender also harbors an attraction (albeit much less secret and subtle) for her.

Quark
A small, unctuous alien, Quark is the owner and operator of a bar aboard DS9, and, of all the characters, is the most opposed to the Federation’s arrival and presence on the station. Greedy, sexist, and covetous by nature, Quark quickly finds himself clashing with the Federation crew, particularly Benjamin Sisko, while also simultaneously trying to ingratiate himself with them because of the potential profits their presence can bring to his business. He also harbors intense, less-than-subtle feelings of attraction toward Nerys Kira, feelings that only intensify the fractious and contentious relationship that exists between himself and Odo, the station’s chief of security.

Julian Amaros
Hailing from Earth, Julian Amaros is DS9’s chief medical officer, and the youngest of the Federation officers assigned to the station, being fresh out of medical school. However, his relative practical inexperience in the medical field is offset by his incredibly high IQ and his ability to quickly process and recall information. He is also the only member of the station’s crew who voluntarily chose to be assigned there, picking the assignment because he felt that it would provide him much more opportunities to expand his horizons and hone his skills than an assignment aboard a traditional starship might.

Jake Sisko
Jake is Benjamin Sisko’s teenaged son, and has lived a transient existencefor most of his life, traveling with his parents as his father’s assignments took the family to different places. He has lived aboard 2 different planets and 4 different starships, giving him an innate curiosity and interest in alien life. His relationship with his father was extremely close during his younger years, but has become increasingly strained since the death of his mother, primarily because of his hidden belief that her death was a direct result of the fact that his father’s assignments took them into space instead of allowing them to live in relative peace back on Earth.

Dukat
A Xarkanian, Dukat is the former overseer of DS9, and finds himself remaining aboard it due to bureaucratic politics within his government, assigned to serve as the official liason between his people, the Federation, and the Taaljoran provisionary government… an interesting position indeed given that, as the former Prefect assigned to oversee his people’s interests in Taaloran space, he was directly responsible for the enslavement and deaths of hundreds of Taaljorans. Although the Xarkanians have signed a peace treaty with the Federation and have opened peace talks with the Taaljoran provisionary government, Dukat is neither trusted nor liked by any of DS9’s crew, particularly Benjamin Sisko, who views him as overly smarmy, and Nerys Kira, who would, if given the change, murder him in his sleep.

Note 1: The approach I took in trying to adapt DS9 as a standalone project was to imagine that the Star Trek incarnation of the property never existed, and that it was being launched today as a completely new entity. That is why I tried to keep as much of the basic premise, characters, and character names as I could. The major changes I did make were altering the names of the Cardassians and Bajorans, as well as their respective planets, going back to Bashir's original name from the DS9 series bible, discarding the tenet of having Bajoran family names come first, and going with an alternate spelling for Jadzia's name. I also added Jake and Dukat to the primary cast of characters.

Note 2: I'll be back later with the concept for a standalone version of Voyager using the same basic approach (treating it as a completely new entity), so watch for it.
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Old February 24 2010, 07:55 PM   #10
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

I think part of the pitch of Voyager was that it was going to be a Starfleet ship on its own with a divided crew and no Starfleet to fall back on or help. Then they neutered the Maquis by the end of the pilot and we know how the next seven years turned out, which among other things neutered the Borg as well.
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Old February 24 2010, 08:37 PM   #11
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Sorry to be unoriginal, but yeah, a standalone DS9 basically would be B5. And there's nothing wrong with that. Most ideas that would benefit from being part of the Star Trek universe would also work fine outside that universe, and they wouldn't be the "same thing." Being inside the Star Trek universe was a huge factor in DS9.

However some ideas wouldn't work as well outside the Star Trek universe. VOY's lost-in-space premise is too generic unless you already have the emotional attachment of the Star Trek universe. You need to understand what the characters lost and what they want to go back to (or not go back to).

One of the significant differences that I have noticed between the two series - B5 and DS9 - is that DS9 relied more heavily on the socio-religious angle throughout its entire run (even during the 'war years') while B5 slanted more heavily towards the socio-political, and could best be described, IMO, as "The West Wing in space".
I thought DS9 was plenty political, but of course that revolved around Fed politics and the relationship to neighboring empires, because there's no "internal" Fed politics - it's a happy utopia - because that's the Star Trek way of doing things. (With the exception of Homefront/Paradise Lost of course - a rare example of internal Fed politics being treated seriously). The religious angle in DS9 was underdeveloped and never felt real to me. It was mystical hand-waving hooey that devolved into video-game-level writing. DS9's substance was political, just like B5's.

Your "non-Star Trek" DS9 premise sounds too close to Star Trek. Having the station be an outpost of "a" Federation is no different from DS9 being an outpost of "the" Federation. (Unless your concept of a Federation is very different from the somewhat militaristic and expansionistic liberal-utopia of Star Trek.) To remove the Star Trek concept, you have to remove the Federation or change it a great deal. Then of course the question becomes: why are Earthlings meddling in the affairs of far-flung aliens?

Last edited by Temis the Vorta; February 24 2010 at 08:51 PM.
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Old February 24 2010, 08:53 PM   #12
DigificWriter
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Anybody have any comments on my concept for standalone DS9, JOOC?

Also, here's my Voyager concept (although I don't know if I'm entirely happy with it):

Voyager
The Premise
The premise of Voyager can be compared to the Biblical story of the Exodus, and chronicles a group of mixed humans and aliens stranded aboard a starship hundreds of miles from home, and their struggles to integrate and deal with moral and ethical issues as they embark on a journey to get home. The area of space through which the ship travels is heavily populated by alien species which respond to its presence with hostility, creating an atmosphere of near-constant peril in which the characters find themselves. In addition to this ‘quest for home’, one of the driving forces behind the series is the fact that the Voyager’s crew is comprised of dedicated military officers and a crew of people who could be charitably described as space pirates, or, less charitably, terrorists, whom the Voyager’s crew was actually sent to apprehend prior to them being stranded hundreds of miles from home.

The Ship
The Voyager is a state-of-the-art starship constructed primarily for the purpose of conducting scientific experiments, and, as such, is not entirely suited to the rigors and necessities of a prolonged journey through space, particularly space inhabited by as many hostile alien species as its crew encounters over the course of their journey towards home. The fact that the Voyager is primarily a scientific vessel often requires its crew to improvise and find ways to offset its relative lack of offensive armaments in order to allow them to continue to survive.

The Characters
Kathryn Janeway
The Voyager’s commanding officer, Kathryn Janeway’s background is primarily in science, although she does possess natural leadership qualities and the ability to inspire great loyalty in the people placed under her command. She is also very much an idealist who tends to see the best in people until they give her ample reason to do otherwise. These qualities were what led her to be assigned as Voyager’s commanding officer, and will serve her well as she endeavors to get herself and her crew back home.


Chakotay
A very charismatic leader in his own right, Chakotay is the defacto captain and leader of the band of ‘space pirates’ who come to comprise part of the Voyager’s crew, and becomes the ship’s second-in-command. Chakotay is an interesting man because, although he is human, he does not hail from Earth; his Native American ancestors left the planet and settled another world, placing his cultural beliefs in conflict – in some cases – with the more traditional beliefs espoused by Kathryn Janeway and other members of the Voyager’s crew.


Tom Paris
Tom Paris finds himself in an interesting position because he is a former member of Chakotay’s crew. He joined Chakotay’s ‘space pirate’ band less out of empathy towards them and more out of a desire to drown out his own conscience and sense of failure – stemming from an incident in which he lied about the death of a person under his command during a training exercise and was dishonorably discharged - but was captured and placed in prison, where he languished before being approached by Kathryn Janeway and asked to help advise her and her crew as they attempted to apprehend Chakotay’s band. His primary role on the Voyager is to serve as the ship’s pilot and chief navigation officer.


Tuvok
Tuvok, an alien, is an old friend of Kathryn Janeway’s, and was asked to serve as her chief of security aboard the Voyager. Because his species lives much longer than humans, Tuvok possesses a sense of maturity and wisdom that perfectly complements – and at times offsets – his stoic and reserved nature, and makes him an ideal ‘sounding board’ for Janeway as she struggles with the moral and ethical dilemmas inherent in trying to merge two crews into one and navigate an unfamiliar area of space populated by equally unfamiliar – and, for the most part, hostile – alien species.


B'Elanna Torres
Half-alien and half-human, B’Elanna is one of the more complex and conflicted members of Chakotay’s crew, and one of the few to officially join Voyager’s crew when given the chance, although she does so with extreme reluctance, and only after some encouragement from Tom Paris, who sees in her a kindred spirit and manages to penetrate her cold exterior. She serves as the ship’s chief engineer, and is often the one primarily tasked with keeping the ship running, and with trying to offset its limited offensive capabilities in order to keep it and its crew intact.


Harry Kim
Harry Kim is the youngest member of the Voyager’s crew, and had just reported aboard the ship for his first assignment when it was stranded miles from home. Because he is so very young and inexperienced, Harry is somewhat of an idealist, even moreso than Kathryn Janeway, and sees things in terms that are pretty black and white, which in turn leads to problems accepting Chakotay, B’Elanna, and others as official members of Voyager’s crew. He is also the person struggling the most to cope with the fact that he is stranded hundreds of miles from the people he loves, particularly his parents, who were getting up in age when they had him and therefore spoiled him during his childhood. His primary role is to serve as the ship’s communications officer and work in close conjunction with Tom Paris, with whom he forms a brotherly friendship.


Kes
One of two aliens whom the Voyager encounters early on in their journey, Kes is extremely child-like, given that her species is empathic and able to read and influence the feelings of others, and given the fact that members of her species only have a lifespan of 9 human years. She comes aboard the ship at Janeway’s invitation to serve as a sort of counselor, and to also help in navigating the unfamiliar areas of space through which the ship must travel as it makes its way towards home. Because of her child-like nature, she often relies heavily on the protection of Neelix, who is the person best able to understand her because of the fact that he comes from the same area of space as her.


Neelix
Like Kes, Neelix hails from the area of space in which the Voyager finds itself stranded, and comes aboard the ship in much the same fashion as she does and for many of the same reasons. Neelix is a very jovial fellow, and an eternal optimist, and is therefore able to serve as a sort of ‘jack of all trades’ aboard the Voyager and a morale booster for the rest of her crew. He also serves as the ship’s cook, given that the ship’s limited resources require that the crew rely on real food as much as possible rather than the standard replicated fare that had been their previous expected diet. He is also sort of the defacto protector of Kes, with whom he shares a great affinity and understanding.


The Doctor
A holographic construct whose sole purpose was to serve as a backup to the Voyager’s human(oid) medical staff, the ‘Doctor’ instead finds himself becoming the ship’s defacto chief medical officer. Because he is an artificial construct, the Doctor’s personality is entirely dependent on his original programming, and since the man who created him – Doctor Zimmerman – was a somewhat gruff fellow who could come across as slightly uncaring, the Doctor can come across as being equally gruff and uncaring.
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Old February 24 2010, 08:57 PM   #13
Asbo Zaprudder
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Aragorn wrote: View Post
I think part of the pitch of Voyager was that it was going to be a Starfleet ship on its own with a divided crew and no Starfleet to fall back on or help. Then they neutered the Maquis by the end of the pilot and we know how the next seven years turned out, which among other things neutered the Borg as well.
QFT -- I lost hope for the series when the Maquis were in Starfleet uniforms by the end of the pilot episode. What a let down.
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Old February 24 2010, 09:15 PM   #14
DigificWriter
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Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

Temis the Vorta wrote: View Post
Your "non-Star Trek" DS9 premise sounds too close to Star Trek. Having the station be an outpost of "a" Federation is no different from DS9 being an outpost of "the" Federation. (Unless your concept of a Federation is very different from the somewhat militaristic and expansionistic liberal-utopia of Star Trek.) To remove the Star Trek concept, you have to remove the Federation or change it a great deal. Then of course the question becomes: why are Earthlings meddling in the affairs of far-flung aliens?
Unified interplanetary alliances are not a strictly Star Trek thing, nor is the use of the word 'Federation' to describe such an entity. Star Trek wasn't the first franchise to use the idea, and it certainly isn't the last (Firefly's Alliance is basically a Federation, but without the utopian or alien parts of the equation), although I can certainly see the genesis of your comments. That being said, there are a few things that I came up with concerning the makeup of the universe in which my standalone DS9 would be set that differentiate it from the ST franchise, but that I couldn't figure out how to include in the bible. Here they are as follows:
1) The size of the Federation and its galactic 'neighborhood'; the Federation is actually only comprised of 8 planets, including Earth, and there are all of about 13 inhabited planets in the entirety of the galactic universe (see below for more)

2) The number of non-aligned and/or hostile planets; including Xarkanios, the home planet of the Xarkanians, there are only 5 planets and alien species which responded to the Federation with hostility (this of course does not count the worlds that comprise my Dominion analogue, which doesn't yet have a name)

3) The socio-political makeup of Earth and the other worlds in the Federation is much closer to the future society present in Battlestar Galactica, Caprica, Babylon 5, and Firefly, and isn't meant to be a utopian existence, even though it certainly might seem like such from the blurb I included at the beginning
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Old February 24 2010, 10:07 PM   #15
bigdaddy
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Location: Space Massachusetts
Re: Deep Space Nine and Voyager as stand-alone franchises

I still think Voyager would have been crap because the writing and the characters just are boring.

DS9 I don't think would have been B5, it would have it's own fun take on things, and frankly that I think would have been darker like BSG than Voyager being darker.
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