Why Stephen King Doesn’t Want You to Compare the Coronavirus to ‘The Stand’

Author Stephen King is known for writing terrifying stories, many of which have gone on to become staples in popular culture. Now, as the world is dealing with the fallout from a new coronavirus, some can’t help but compare it to the pandemic from his famous novel, The Stand. But King isn’t having any of it, and he took to social media to set the record straight.

Author Stephen King
Author Stephen King | Thos Robinson/Getty Images

What is Stephen King’s novel ‘The Stand’ about?

Fictional apocalyptic stories are intriguing. And that’s probably why movies and shows like Contagion, Resident Evil, and The Walking Dead have done so well. But when it comes to writing post-apocalyptic horror, no one does it quite like Stephen King. 

In his 1978 hit novel, The Stand, King takes readers on a journey through a deadly pandemic referred to as Project Blue, the superflu, and Captain Trips. The disease originates from a secret lab on a U.S. Army base and is accidentally released into the public after an infected soldier flees the base.

Eventually, the highly contagious virus spreads across the world and kills 99.4 percent of Earth’s population, including certain animals. The remaining survivors gather into two groups. Through their dreams, one group is pulled together by a kind-hearted 108-year-old woman named Mother Abigail.

The other group is drawn to an evil being who goes by the name of Randall Flagg or The Walking Man. Mother Abigail gets messages from God that tell her and her followers how to stop Flagg from destroying any good left on Earth. Eventually, there is a stand between good and evil, and the remaining survivors go on to restart human civilization. 

Why people are revisiting ‘The Stand’ now

In the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, movies like Outbreak and Contagion are seeing a resurgence. Similarly, Stephen King fans are revisiting The Stand because of its contagious-disease centered storyline, as well as the way it follows the pandemic, step-by-step. 

“Captain Trips anyone?!? Feels like the beginning of the novel ‘the stand,'” wrote one Twitter user. “You know that chapter in The Stand where King takes you in the POV of Captain Trips on its course through like, three interactions and you realize how easily virus’s can spread,” tweeted another user.

In jest, some have even started calling the new coronavirus by the name it’s referred to in King’s novel.  “Is it too early to start calling COVID-19 Captain Trips,” a Twitter user wrote. “I still like calling it Captain Trips for Spooky Reasons,” joked another Twitter user.

Stephen King is not cool with the comparisons to his book

Despite all the attention his 1978 novel is getting, Stephen King is adamant the current situation is nothing like his book. “No, coronavirus is NOT like THE STAND,” tweeted the author. “It’s not anywhere near as serious. It’s eminently survivable. Keep calm and take all reasonable precautions.” 

In an earlier tweet, the author joked about the sanitizer shortages with a meme. In the picture, Pennywise the clown (from his novel, It) is using hand sanitizer to lure a kid into his underground lair. 

With all the fear surrounding the current pandemic, it’s nice to see King taking a stand (pun intended) against misinformation and the unfounded comparisons to his book. And hopefully, as time passes and people recover, things will begin to go back to normal.