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Russell was an African-American science fiction writer and ex-U.S. Navy serviceman who lived in 1950s New York City and wrote for Incredible Tales magazine. His editor, Douglas Pabst, and the publisher of the magazine were reluctant to reveal that Russell was African-American; this was a time when racism was prevalent in the United States of America. His greatest work chronicled the adventures of a black captain who commands a space station, a work which was based on a drawing by Roy Ritterhouse. The story was never published. This disappointment, coupled with a physical assault, led to his eventual commitment to a psychiatric hospital for treatment for a delusional breakdown. (DS9: "Far Beyond the Stars").
Russell had continued writing about Deep Space 9, while in the institution, but the manuscripts were quickly shredded. Fellow hospital resident Veronica Loomis found the stories inspiring, as she was a descendant of Russian Jewish immigrants. For a time, he had stopped writing while in the hospital, realizing what his obsessive behavior cost him. Loomis convinced him to continue the stories, which provided hope for a better future. (Star Trek: Lambda Paz: The Tides of War, Part 2")
Doctor Wykoff lamented this setback when Russell was writing out the actions of Benjamin Sisko on the walls of his room as part of a Pah-wraith induced vision to deter Sisko from opening the Orb of the Emissary. Wykoff tried to have him paint over the writing, making Sisko bury the Orb but luckily, Ezri Dax was able to remind him of his promise to Jadzia as Russell finished the story, opening the box. (DS9: "Shadows and Symbols")