Book Review: The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko

Cover of The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko by Derek Tyler Attico“To everyone who is reclaiming their story and speaking their truth,” says the author’s dedication in The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko, and it’s a strikingly apt one. Several other Star Trek autobiographies show the “author” entrusting their story to a younger person, such as Spock to Picard, but for Benjamin Sisko, this framing device has a special significance. The book is presented as a message that Sisko sends to his son Jake from inside the Celestial Temple after joining the Prophets there (S07E25 “What You Leave Behind”). Jake publishes the message and adds a prologue from his own perspective, explaining his intention to set the record straight. Sisko is a controversial figure, both in real life as Trek’s first Black lead and in-universe as Bajor’s Emissary. Jake, a son missing his father and a journalist dedicated to the truth, is the perfect character for Derek Tyler Attico to borrow to introduce this story.

Writing as first the son and then the father, Attico does an excellent job of showcasing the Sisko family’s uniquely nonlinear perspective on time. As an African-American man from New Orleans, whose family still makes Creole food and jazz music from scratch in an age of holodecks and replicators, Ben is so deeply grounded in tradition that the past still feels present to him. He refers to real-life historical events such as the abolition of slavery, the 1960’s civil rights movement and the rebuilding of the city after Hurricane Katrina as a legacy of strength and resilience inherited from his ancestors. At the same time, he never loses sight of the future, from his teenage fascination with technology to his fatherly advice for Jake’s adult life. As a Prophet speaking from the other side of the wormhole, Ben Sisko’s story takes on an added poignancy, as he tries to tell Jake (and us) everything he thought he’d have time for later.

It’s his relationships that define him as much as time and place. Attico gives us Sisko’s perspective on everyone who matters in his life: his family, his colleagues (including the crewmates assimilated by the Borg in “Emissary”) and his enemies. He has some wise and sometimes surprising insights about his crew; for example, he considers that once her initial struggles are past, Ezri is more “in the driver’s seat” with Dax than Curzon or Jadzia were. For everyone who feels that Jennifer Sisko deserved better than the limited role we saw on screen, Attico gives her a shrewd scientist family, a hobby (dancing) and a career in oceanography. (Lower Decks fans will enjoy the Cetacean Ops references.) Balancing ambition and family life with her, losing her, then starting a new life with Kasidy, gives Ben a profound respect for women that he conveys to Jake in the following words:

“… No relationship is ever wholly equal. It constantly shifts. Sometimes you give more, and sometimes your partner does. But through it all, never lose sight of what the woman in your life and mother of your children goes through all by herself … Jennifer did, Kasidy is going through it now, and one day your wife will as well. Always keep that in mind, son, and you’ll be a better husband for it.”

(Can’t you just hear that in the voice of Avery Brooks?)

As for enemies, Attico draws a noticeable parallel between the Cardassian Occupation of Bajor and Earth’s own history of racism. “Some people only feel tall by keeping others on their knees,” Joseph Sisko tells a young Ben after seeing a holoprogram about segregation in 1960’s America. Later, an adult Commander Sisko describes the Cardassian military as driven by “a deeply rooted fear of not being good enough … they’ll do anything not to feel that way.” Sisko spends the next seven years fighting with everything he has to keep Deep Space Nine “free of oppression and tyranny,” calling out prejudice everywhere he finds it, even (where Quark, Rom and Nog are concerned) in himself.

I have only one criticism for this book, and that may just be a matter of opinion. Ben’s message to Jake gets interrupted several times by cryptic visions. The Sarah-Prophet, the entity that inhabited Ben’s birth mother, tells him he has “many tasks,” showing him scenes of Bajor’s past and a fleet of manta-ray-shaped starships. These seemed to be setting up some kind of overarching plotline, but nothing comes of it. Then again, the Prophets have always been cryptic, so this may just be them acting in character, and an open ending has the advantage of leaving room for further adventures.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book, both as a classic sci-fi story about war, faith and time, and as an intimate character study of a leader, husband and father. Ben’s last words will resonate with any long-term fan as well as they do with Jake: “Make it a good one … I’ll be watching.”

The Autobiography of Benjamin Sisko was published in November2023 in trade paperback. It is available online through or your preferred independent retailer.

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