The Stand was originally published in 1978, and later expanded into an “uncut” edition that introduced several hundred pages of previously deleted material in 1990. It is one of King’s most ambitious novels, both in size (the uncut edition clocks in at more than 1,100 pages) and in scope, and it all begins with the accidental release of a deadly superflu.
The first part of the novel chronicles the spread of this plague, dubbed “Captain Trips,” as it kills nearly everyone in the United States and beyond, creating a wasteland. The few remaining people who prove immune to the virus, fighting to survive after their loved ones have died horribly, feel themselves drawn to two polarized supernatural forces. One is a kindly old woman in Nebraska named Mother Abigail, and the other is a denim-clad demon in human form named Randall Flagg.
Ultimately, all of the remaining survivors are compelled to choose a side in the coming war, as Mother Abigail’s followers settle into the “Free Zone” of Boulder, Colorado, and Randall Flagg takes over the Mecca of sin that is Las Vegas. Before it’s all over, the remaining representatives of humanity will have to stand together against the darkness, with the fate of the world at stake.