The Stand by Stephen King
I’m just under halfway through this incredibly long and detailed story. I started it just after the 3rd anniversary of the start of the Covid pandemic which somehow seemed like a good idea. Thankfully our outbreak wasn’t as extreme as that in The Stand – almost the entire population of America (possibly the world) wiped out in approximately 2 weeks by a human engineered weaponised flu virus.
The plot develops into a dark fantasy battle between good and evil as the survivors gravitate towards two distinct communities that seem destined to clash.
However, it starts with the story of how the outbreak began and spread, the small group of survivors and how they coped as the world died around them.
Having lived through our own much less virulent pandemic it was a little bit close to the bone. It especially brought back memories of those scary reports from Italy when it seemed like Covid was unstoppable. It was also felt frighteningly realistic when describing how the virus was developed, tested and eventually how it escaped. The real horror though was the attempted cover-up. That also felt too real for comfort.
The other feeling I’m getting from the story and the reason that prompted this post before finishing the book, is that it seems to me to be one of the big inspirations for the storyline of The Walking Dead.
The zombies in The Walking Dead are caused by an unknown virus and the survivors are immune and untouched by some unknown freak of nature or genetics until they are killed and then reanimate. What is less obvious though is the inspiration for some of the characters.
Negan is one of the most evil protagonists in the TV show and so much of his character seems inspired by Randall Flagg who is also known as “The Walking Man“. So many of Negan’s behaviours, speech patterns and characteristics just scream Randall Flagg that it’s almost distracting in the book.
Eugene is one of the complicated characters from The Walking Dead. He is a cowardly and insecure man, highly intelligent and has a peculiarly individual way of speaking in overly complicated language. At one stage he is working for Negan and The Saviors. To me Eugene is directly inspired by Harold Lauder.
There are other similarities but these are the two that stand out the most to me. I wonder has anyone else found anything that I’ve missed?