“Women’s lib, Frannie had decided, was nothing more nor less than an outgrowth of the technological society. Women were at the mercy of their bodies. They were smaller. They tended to be weaker. A man couldn’t get with child, but a woman could—every four-year-old knows it. And a pregnant woman is a vulnerable human being. Civilization had provided an umbrella of sanity that both sexes could stand beneath.”
As a government experiments with biological warfare they end up finding themselves trying it’s best to contain a super flu released upon the world. One man sees red and instead of stopping, he ceases the opportunity for freedom by putting the rest of the nation at risk for exposure. From small towns like Annette, Texas to Shoyo, Arkansas and Ogunquit, Maine to the largest metropolitan area of the country in New York City, this super flu has traveled the lengths of the country and there seems to be no end in sight. Pathologists at government assembled committee Project Blue are having a difficult time identifying the characteristics of the flu as it contains several stages and is constantly mutating, making a proper diagnosis very complex. Despite all the legitimate concerns, the fear-mongering and conversational citizens are accelerating the anxiety by coining the virus Captain Trips, Tube Neck, A-Prime and effectively, much like the flu, the word on the street is becoming highly-communicable. Fear being one of the greatest motivators of all emotions, propelled this man to corruption and ultimately the demise of himself as well as his family. Other than the 99% who will assuredly die to the disease, what will the lucky few who happen to be immune do when they come face-to-face with visions and rumours of the grim reaper himself? Only time and a thousand or so pages will tell.
Classic pre/post apocalyptic novel that manifests itself and involves the common theme of survival, loneliness, catastrophe, and evolution along the way. Sure everyone is living their lives with survival as their greatest accomplishment for the day, but when the possibility of death is there with you every move you make and every breath you take, you never really comprehend the totality of the matter. There is also a more prevalent theme that comes to be as the novel progresses that involves a more common argument of general novels that routinely engages; Heaven vs. Hell, Good vs. Evil, God vs. Satan, but more specifically for this epic novel; Abigail Freemantle or Mother Abigail as she is commonly referred vs. A man that is born when times change. A reptillian man that is the purest form of evil left in the world who calls on all the lonely, the weak, the terrible, the nonbeliever to become his underling, his fellow soldiers of the night. He goes by the alias The Tall Man aka Randall Flagg aka Richard Fry aka The Walkin Dude aka The Dark Man.
“Monsters appear. Attila the Hun, Genghis Khan, Jack the Ripper, Lizzie Borden. Charles Manson and Richard Speck and Ted Bundy in our own time, if you like. It’s been suggested by colleagues even more fanciful than I that Western Man needs an occasional high colonic, a purging, and this occurs at the end of centuries so that he can face the new century clean and full of optimism. And in this case, we’ve been given a super-enema, and when you think about it, that makes perfect sense. We are not, after all, simply approaching the centenary this time. We are approaching a whole new millennium.”
The cast of characters is immense, the settings span from coast-to-coast and sea to shining sea. As characters fall off due to the deadly plague, so do the settings due to the search for fellow survivors and visions that invade their dreams. Some of the remaining people are headed to the agreeable and controlled climate of Boulder, Colorado while others are destined for the dangerously hot, hazy, and humid conditions of Las Vegas, Nevada. Yes the place where sins need no penitence and that what happens there stays there. Seems to me a good place for ill-minded individuals.
“Men who find themselves late are never sure. They are all the things the civics books tell us the good citizen should be: partisans but never zealots, respectors of the facts which attend each situation but never benders of those facts, uncomfortable in positions of leadership but rarely unable to turn down a responsibility once it has been offered . . . or thrust upon them. They make the best leaders in a democracy because they are unlikely to fall in love with power.”
I thought the book followed a path that made the power of the material and the severity of the substance lessened. This book falls victim to the “TMI” quandary where less would have definitely been more for imaginations sake and instilling a fear in the reader. When you go down the road where nearly everything is explained, surprises are few and far between not only for the characters, but the reader also. With the reading of the complete and uncut edition of the novel every character is provided a thorough back story and how they progress from a day to day perspective. Personally, I don’t need all of that excessive and trite detail to have a feeling for each character, I also don’t want a thorough understanding when reading a novel that intends to be frightening and horrifying. There needs to be surprises, the whole point is not to see something coming but having the ability to make sense of it when it does. As an aside, maybe it’s just me, but when I see the majority of characters referred to with their given and surname, and then a few others are given their middle names as well, I think i have a good idea what side of the tracks they’re going. I felt it all to be extremely dulled down, except for a few passages. I believe I would have benefited more from reading the condensed version and would advise first time readers to think about doing the same before going Gung Ho on the behemoth that is THE STAND.
“The beauty of religious mania is that it has the power to explain everything. Once God (or Satan) is accepted as the first cause of everything which happens in the mortal world, nothing is left to chance … or change. Once such incantatory phrases as ‘we see now through a glass darkly’ and ‘mysterious are the ways He chooses His wonders to perform’ are mastered, logic can be happily tossed out the window. Religious mania is one of the few infallible ways of responding to the world’s vagaries, because it totally eliminates pure accident. To the true religious maniac, it’s all on purpose.”