Swan Song And The Stand

Swan Song And The Stand

I am reposting this from http://talkstephenking.blogspot.com/2009/10/swan-song-verses-stand.html

Good Stuff!


This was originally posted 10/10/09. I’m reposting it with some corrections and some new quotes. In other words. . . this is the complete and uncut version of this article! I love both these novels!
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A King Like Review Of SWAN SONG:
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In The Library Policeman, Liberian Mrs. Lortz give realtor Sam Peebles a hefty dose of reality. In response to his suggestion that her signs might be a bit harsh — over the top — she responds by telling him what kids really read. “According to the poll. . . Their favorite novel was a paperback original called Swan Song. It’s a horror novel by a man named Robert Mccammon. We can’t keep it in stock, Sam. They read each new copy to rags in weeks. I had a copy put in Vinabind, but of course, it was stolen. By one of the bad children.” Four Past Midnight, The Library Policeman, p. 431 (HB)
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Now, that’s pretty close to a good review — in the world of Stephen King. If a prudish librarian doesn’t like the book — it’s must be good. She probably wouldn’t like Dracula, either.
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Swan Song and the Original Edition of The Stand:
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Swan Song, by Robert Mccammon, is often compared to Stephen King’s The Stand. Of course, when it was written the world only knew of the old version of The Stand. King had not yet shown his full hand on this masterpiece.
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Swan Song Stands On It’s Own!
I should point out that Swan Song stands on its own. It is not a rip-off of The Stand. It moves in its own directions. Mccammon is no hack! There’s an interesting blog entry titled, “Swan Song is Not Like The Stand.” The author writes, “I was perusing McCammon’s Facebook page and one of his fans posted a question asking (I’m paraphrasing) the author why he never really discussed Swan Song. McCammon answered that it was because when the novel was originally released there were critics who lambasted the novel for being similar to King’s.”
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I agree with his sentiments as further stated: “McCammon’s novel is a quality read and is good enough to stand up on its own; it is unfortunate that McCammon should feel shameful for writing such a great book and always have to go on the defensive every time Swan Song is brought up in conversation. The criticism should instead be directed towards the critics who were so unimaginative that they could not differentiate between the scenarios of McCammon’s to those of Stephen King.”
http://readingwriting.wordpress.com/2010/01/09/swan-song-is-not-like-the-stand/
Comparing The Two
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By comparing the two novels, I am not saying they are the same! I am not suggesting either author took ideas or themes from the other. I am simply pointing out some common things between the novels. Like comparing Salem’s Lot to Dracula.
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It is interesting for me to note how personally intertwined these books are for me. In fact, when I first posted this article, I noted that both The Stand and Swan Song have sympathetic black female characters. Some of you rightly pointed out the error of my way! Sister Creep isn’t black! That startled me. How had I made that mistake? Well, the answer was simple: I had recently read The Stand, and Mother Abigail was on my mind. Sister — Mother . . . somehow she was a street-smart mother Abigail in my imagination.
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Both novels are long, sweeping novels of good and evil. The primary difference I noted was the way in which each author got rid of the bulk of society. Mccammon used nukes. King used the “super-flu.” Years ahead of Swine Flu or SARS, he imagined a world wide plague that would devastate the countryside.
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By the way, note the importance of women in both novels. In Swan Song it’s Sister Creep, and, of course, in The Stand it’s Mother Abigail. God is also a main character in both novels!
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Of interest: King does not use nukes to end the world, but they do play a critical part in the plot. It is Trashcan man who brings the nukes to Vegas, and God himself who pushes the button.
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King never moves into high places. He doesn’t concern us too much with the government (except when Stu is taken captive). The story is told simply from the views of the main characters. But Mccammon takes is right into the oval office and Air Force One. I like the president in Swan Song.
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Brian Schwartz at You’re entitled to my opinion writes, “It’s not hard to see the influence of Stephen King. There are too many parallels between The Stand and Swan Song. That does not diminish the power of this story, its characters, or the barren wasteland that is America after it is nuked. While the stories are similar, the characters are remarkably different. Besides, a tale can be retold in a number of ways and be enjoyable.” http://brian1984books.blogspot.com/2006/05/swan-song-by-robert-mccammon.html
I do wonder if Mccammon was inspired by The Stand. So which one’s better? Why bother — both are worth multiple readings.
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Craigs Book Club rightly notes, “Epic in scope, Swan Song approaches 1000 pages. This may turn some off, but the pages are full and not a word is wasted. Fans of The Stand may scoff at the similar plot, but I can say that, even as a fan of The Stand myself, I was able to lose myself in this horrible world and forget all about Stephen King’s.”
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Available Editions:
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Strangely, I went to look for a hardcover copy of Swan Song, since the paperback was experiencing a pretty ugly death. But Pocketbooks offers no hardcover that I can find. Turns out there is a hardcover edition from Dark Harvest. Back in the day, it was $21.95. Now, it’s looking more like $147 to $943 — IF you can find it.
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In fact, a book this good begs a questions:
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1. Where’s the audio edition?
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2. Where’s the movie? (mini-series) The Stand mini-series will soon become dated. Maybe it’s time to give Mccammon’s novel a shot (instead of remaking The Stand).
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Differences:
Again, Brian at yourentitledtomyopinion, pointed out some itneresting differences between the two novles in the area of landscape. He has done some great work reviewing these two books.
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he writes: What sends The Stand above and beyond the others is the deconstruction of society that unfolds in the first third of the book. In Matheson’s tale, some of that deconstruction is told in flashback. In Swan Song, society is wiped out in an instant by a nuclear blast. King’s book starts with men lazing about a small town Texas gas station. As the flu spreads, we read as Americans first become suspicious that what is happening is more than your average flu epidemic. That suspicion turns into fear as the Army begins quarantining cities and killing those who resist. Finally, with their ranks decimated by the flu, the military gives way to the mobs who also eventually succumb to the virus.”
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and:
“Another striking difference in The Stand versus other post-apocalyptic fiction is the quiet beauty of the post-apocalyptic world. McCammon’s world is scorched. Matheson’s is haunted. Cormac McCarthy paints an even bleaker picture in his book, The Road where the world is dead and covered in gray ash.”
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http://brian1984books.blogspot.com/2006/05/swan-song-by-robert-mccammon.html

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