Do you ever wonder if you’d survive the end of the world; a sweeping pandemic that destroys cities in a week’s time? What if that pandemic was sent by God? What if the survivors were picked to survive? Stephen King’s 1978 novel, “The Stand”, is, perhaps, the greatest piece of apocalyptic fiction to have ever been written.
Apocalyptic fiction is an immensely popular genre, and has been since the Book of Revelation. Arguably, the reason why is that everyone wants to believe that they would be the last man standing; a hero in bloody armor.
King’s characters must do more than survive, however; they must choose between the path of good and the path of evil.
After the “super flu,” a weaponized form of influenza, is unleashed unto the population, a small number of survivors, who were immune to the disease, ban together in a series of small groups and try to rebuild society.
Eventually, two settlements are established, one in Boulder, Colo., ran by the saintly Mother Abigail, a prophet of God, and the other in Las Vegas, which is led by Randall Flagg, also known as the devil. Randall Flagg, the Dark Man, is also a character in several of King’s other novels. He is recognizable by his initials always being ‘R.F.’
The survivors are drawn to one of the settlements, either by Flagg or Mother Abigail, in cross country pilgrimages.
Surprisingly, the devil has some nasty plans for the Boulder settlement and the two groups are forced to collide in a true battle of good versus evil.
In interviews with King, he says that the novel was inspired by “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy.
King states, “I had wanted to write a fantasy epic like “The Lord of the Rings,” only with an American setting… Only instead of a hobbit, my hero was a Texan named Stu Redman, and instead of a Dark Lord, my villain was a ruthless drifter and supernatural madman named Randall Flagg.”
Like many of King’s stories, “The Stand” was adapted into a miniseries in the early ‘90s. The adaptation stays remarkably true to the original story as the teleplay was written by King himself. It contains a stellar cast of late-twentieth century must-have actors, like Molly Ringwald and Gary Sinise.
“The Stand” miniseries is available on Netflix Instant and everyone should watch it (but everyone should also read the book.)
“The Stand” consists of three parts in 823 pages, so, in between beach parties and brunch with your mom, or whatever people do during the summer, “The Stand” will keep undoubtedly keep you entertained.
Paige Jurgensen can be reached at