Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Changes In Stephen King's The Stand 1978-1990 Part 3

The date changes are what stand out most noticeably in the 1990 version of The Stand.  The novel is so steeped in 1970s paranoia that switching the setting to 1990 just makes things odd.  Even 1980 was pushing things a bit.  In truth, this novel seems set a few days after Jonestown, with Watergate, stagflation, the Kent State shootings, the Charles Manson trial, and the Vietnam War all fairly fresh memories as well.  Actually, the novel was published before the Jonestown tragedy, but it captures the 1970s horror zeitgeist so well it seems prophetic.  But 1990?

No, that doesn't work.  This novel doesn't feel set in Ronald Reagan's America and certainly not George Bush's.  Not that those weren't horrific times as well, but the horror was of a different type, more like that of a Yuppie vampire sucking the blood out of a lazy steelworker.  The Stand's horror is the shock of 1960s peace and love hippies giving up on flower power and going underground and robbing banks and setting bombs.  It's Patty Hearstville all the way, no matter how many Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles get sprinkled in.  Randall Flagg would have been working on Wall Street in the 1980s, not wandering the backroads of America.

I wish King had set the novel in the 1970s, but I can live with 1980.

Personally, I just consider all the date changes typos.  Tsk, tsk, such sloppy copyediting.  It mars an otherwise fine novel.


  1. I can envision another re-release of The Stand, where everything is put back to the 70s, and it's now a retro dystopian novel. In any case, I love love LOVE this book and I re-read it every other year or so. I also have watched the mini-series on Netflix more than once. It's weak compared to the book, but it's better than nothing, and I love to then fantasize about dream-casting an updated version. Maybe it could be a full TV series, a la "Jericho" and so forth. I think I read somewhere that they're making "Under the Dome" into a series (probably my second-favorite King, right after The Stand).

  2. Maybe when the Library of America gets around to King, they can reset the startdate back to 1980 (I'd still prefer 1979 or 1978, but 1980 was the original published date). Does anyone know what date they used in the miniseries or comics adaptation?

  3. The miniseries came out in 1994, and there wasn't any year referenced in the show itself, but it felt quite "early 90s." Wikipedia reminded me that at one point in the mini-series, Larry mentions Rodney King. The Rodney King beating happened in 1991, so I guess it takes place after that?

  4. Cool! Thanks! It looks like they kept advancing the date then.


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