Written by: Stephen King, 1978
Instrument of the Apocalypse: A superflu known as “Captain Trips” that kills over 99% of the population.
Summary: After a superbug created by the U.S. government is inadvertently unleashed and kills off most of the population, the few survivors find themselves supernaturally drawn to avatars of good (Mother Abigail) and evil (the insanely charismatic Randall Flagg), leading to a climactic showdown. Although The Stand is arguably the most popular installment in King’s sizable oeuvre, the book does not lack for detractors — respected sci-fi author Spider Robinson referred to it as a “brilliantly entertaining parable in praise of ignorance, superstition, reliance on dreams, and the sociological insights of feeble-minded old Ned Ludd” and encouraged everyone to buy a copy “so that you will be in a position to intelligently denounce it to your friends and acquaintances.” (Hey, sometimes you just need to tee it high and let it fly, right?) Like it or loathe it, however, The Stand is too important to ignore.
On Screen: A 1994 miniseries starring Gary Sinise, Rob Lowe, Molly Ringwald, and a cast of hundreds is available on DVD, and is probably one of the better King adaptations out there. A feature film is also allegedly in development, although King himself has been quoted as being unenthusiastic about the project (among other things, it would be difficult to cram the novel’s sprawling narrative into a two- or even three-hour film).
That wasn’t any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery.