Bajor is one of the key focal points for the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Although Star Trek had visited many planets over the course of its lengthy history, it had never had a series before which was so focused on just one planet. But for seven seasons and 176 episodes, Bajor was at the heart of the DS9 series.
In the summer of 1991, Next Generation showrunners Rick Berman and Michael Piller met with incoming Paramount head of television Brandon Tartikoff, who directed them to create a spin-off show from The Next Generation. If the two previous Star Trek series had been, in Gene Roddenberry’s words, “Wagon Train to the stars,” a show about visiting new places each week, Tartikoff suggested the new show should be, “The Rifleman in space,” where the characters would stay still and have to make their community work.
Berman and Piller came back with the idea of setting the show on a starbase on the surface of a planet that had recently been occupied by the Cardassians, an alien race introduced in Season 4 of The Next Generation (in the episode The Wounded) that had proven popular. The show would feature Starfleet personnel helping the planet rebuild. This would allow a different kind of Star Trek show, particularly as it would pit Starfleet personnel against the aliens on the planet who would be suspicious of the new arrivals, wondering if they had exchanged one occupier for another. This would allow dramatic conflict between Starfleet and the aliens, which would overcome a perceived weakness of The Next Generation where Roddenberry had barred conflict between Starfleet characters.
The idea was well-received and groundwork for the new show was laid almost immediately in the third episode of The Next Generation‘s fifth season, Ensign Ro, which confirmed that the planet would be Bajor, home to a formerly peaceful, spiritual race of humanoids who had been driven into a terrorist campaign to force the Cardassians off their world. Development continued, although a significant hurdle was thrown up when it was revealed it would be far too expensive to have the show set on the planet’s surface, with location filming presumably in every episode. This was solved when it was decided to move the action to an abandoned Cardassian space station orbiting Bajor, and then to focus on a newly-discovered stable wormhole linking the Bajoran system to the distant Gamma Quadrant of the galaxy.
Deep Space Nine launched in January 1993 to high ratings and a degree of critical acclaim, although the true plaudits had to wait until later in the first season with episodes like Duet and In the Hands of the Prophets. As the series continued, its critical cachet grew. When Next Generation alum Ira Steven Behr joined as showrunner and executive producer in Season 3, along with acclaimed Next Generation TV and film writer Ronald D. Moore, they began redeveloping the show as a serialised drama, with an ongoing story arc focusing on the growing conflict between the United Federation of Planets and the alien alliance known as the Dominion, with Bajor caught in the middle. The show’s final two seasons were focused on the outbreak of all-out war between the Dominion, now allied to the Cardassians, and the Federation, now allied to the Klingons and Romulans. The show’s final episode aired in June 1999.
Deep Space Nine‘s critical cachet has only grown in the twenty years since it went off-air, with it regularly being called the best of all seven Star Trek series to date, for its serialised storyline, its dramatic conflicts and its constant challenging of Star Trek‘s themes and morals without completely destroying them.
The decision to draw a map of Bajor was made by Robert Hewitt Wolfe, a writer and producer on Deep Space Nine. He had a dry/erase whiteboard in his office on the Paramount lot which he was going to use to break stories, but given his office was too small to hold more than a couple of people, he realised this wasn’t going to happen and story breaks were moved to a larger room. After staring at the empty board for several months, he realised that it would be interesting to use it to create a map of Bajor since, unlike other Trek shows, they were going to be spending a lot of time on this one planet.
Wolfe started developing the map during Season 1 of Deep Space Nine and periodically updated it with every Bajoran location mentioned in the show up to his departure at the end of Season 5. Writer Bradley Thompson then took over the map and developed it up until the show ended.
The map was publicly first aired in Terry Erdmann and Paula Block’s Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion (2000), the greatest Star Trek non-fiction book ever written.
Bajor is, very remarkably, the only Star Trek planet for which a full, canonical map from the original writers and creators of the show exists.
This version of the map is based directly on Wolfe’s original whiteboard map, which he recently released online for the first time.
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