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An Epitaph for René Auberjonois

with Cyrano de Bergerac

René Auberjonois (1940-2019) played many memorable roles on stage, in cinema and on television in the second half of the 20th century. Among them, he was Father Mulcahy in M.A.S.H., and Edgar in King Lear (1970). Science fiction fans will remember him fondly as “Constable” Odo on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1998).

The role of Odo resembles that of Leonard Nimoy’s Mr. Spock (Star Trek), Brent Spiner’s Data (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Tim Russ’s Tuvok (Star Trek: Voyager). All those characters play the part of the “reasoner” in their respective series. Significantly, none is entirely human. Spock and Tuvok are partly or wholly Vulcan, respectively; Data is an android, and Odo is a lonely Changeling marooned far from his home in the Gamma Quadrant.

Odo’s nature as a shape-shifter serves mainly as a dramatic device; he can take any form and appear miraculously when needed. But his character was expanded to include a sardonic sense of humor that served well as a foil for the comic character Quark (Armin Shimerman).

Some three centuries earlier, Cyrano de Bergerac examined in depth the possible nature of space aliens who could communicate with humans. He concentrated on one character in particular: the Sun-being. A native of the Sun rather than of the Earth or Moon, the Sun-being and his fellows have intervened unsuccessfully in Earth’s history, and they have senses beyond those of human beings. Cyrano created a model and role for the “space alien” that modern science fiction has only begun to explore. René Auberjonois would have been perfect for the part.

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