Walking to work sometimes—my office is in Times Square—I think idly to myself about the benefits of a post-apocalyptic world. Fewer people. More space. The environment would probably get better. With any luck, Texas would be wiped off the map entirely. “A plague hits, and half of us survive,” I think to myself as I push past Elmos and Darth Vaders lined up like Wal-Mart greeters on 40th Street. “Maybe that wouldn’t be so bad.”
For secret misanthropes like myself, Stephen King’s The Stand is as fascinating as it is horrifying. Felled by a government-created (and accidentally released) superflu known as Captain Trips, the U.S. (and theoretically global) population is eviscerated—only about 1 in 10 people prove immune. Those that survive find themselves cast adrift in a world absent their loved ones, and are scared by the arrival of vivid mass dreams, dreams of a faceless man and a kindly old woman, the former evil, the latter virtuous, the former Satanic, the latter Godly. Propelled by their visions, the country’s remaining residents gather together in two separate locations—Boulder, Colorado for the good’uns, and Las Vegas, natch, for the bad—where they begin to negotiate the formation of new societies, and to prepare for a final showdown between good and evil.