Russell initially wrote Far Beyond the Stars for the Incredible Tales of Scientific Wonder magazine and was inspired to write it after seeing an illustration of a space station by Roy Ritterhouse. Far Beyond the Stars dealt with Benjamin Sisko, an African-American Captain of a space station called Deep Space 9 and considered it to be the best he had ever written. The Incredible Tales staff felt the same way, although Douglas Pabst and Mr. Stone, the magazine owner, did not want to publish a story where the lead character was African-American, due to the racism prevalent in the United States of America at the time.
Undaunted and refusing to make Sisko white, Russell wrote several more stories, all of which Pabst refused to publish. Reaching a compromise, Far Beyond the Stars became the story of an African-American dreaming of a better future. The magazine was printed, but Mr. Stone later had the entire run pulped, citing the magazine as not meeting the usual standards. With his story unpublished and his job on staff terminated, Russell had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized. He had also begun to see the characters he had created for Deep Space 9 in those people he knew. (DS9 episode: "Far Beyond the Stars")