“First came the days of the plague…”

by

Cover for The Stand

“Then came the dreams…”

The Stand is Stephen King’s post-apocalyptic horror/science fiction epic and largely considered his absolute best work. Originally released in 1978, the story is about the release of a powerful biological weapon nicknamed “Captain Trips” which kills off 99.4% of the world’s population.

The remaining .6% – hundreds of survivors spread all across America – share haunting dreams. There is one with an elderly black woman who seems to represent hope and peace. And then there is the dark man… the Walkin’ Man… the one and only, Randall Flagg.

We follow a large cast of characters including average hero Stu Redman, pregnant sweetheart Fran Goldsmith, conflicted rockstar Larry Underwood, deaf-mute Nick Andros, thief Lloyd Henreid and schizophrenic pyromaniac known as “the Trashcan Man” as they find themselves meeting other survivors and interpreting the dreams – some head to Boulder to meet Mother Abigail, a 108-year-old black woman whom represents good in the eternal struggle against evil – while others, mainly those who are not pure of heart, find themselves in Las Vegas in the company of Randall Flagg, the villain of the story and quite possibly Stephen King’s best villain. The rest of the novel unfolds as these two groups rebuild society in their own distinct views and the struggle between good and evil becomes prevalent when the two forces meet in the last act of the novel, leaving severe casualties on both sides.

When The Stand was first released, it was heavily edited and many minor characters (such as “The Kid”) and subplots were removed. In 1990, a complete and uncut edition was released, restoring many of these lost parts and making the book clock in at around a massive 1,325 pages, which should help prove that it is in fact an epic book in every sense of the word.

While I’m not sure if it is my favourite Stephen King book, I cannot deny the influence it has had on myself and others in writing. As major fans of Lost may know, The Stand is a huge inspiration for the show and the writers have commonly referred to it as “their Bible.” If you’ve thought of reading Stephen King before, then this is the book to read. If you’re a fan of post-apocalyptic stories, then this is the book you must read.

Marvel Comics have also begun to adapt the story into a series of comics. It will be divided into five mini-series consisting of five issues each, totaling 30 issues for the entire series. The first collection will be out soon.

If you would like to reserve a copy of the novel, you can do so here.

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