This is the way the world ends: with a nanosecond of computer error in a Defense Department laboratory and a million casual contacts that form the links in a chain letter of death.
And here is the bleak new world of the day after: a world stripped of its institutions and emptied of 99 percent of its people. A world in which a handful of panicky survivors choose sides -- or are chosen. A world in which good rides on the frail shoulders of the 108-year-old Mother Abigail -- and the worst nightmares of evil are embodied in a man with a lethal smile and unspeakable powers: Randall Flagg, the dark man.
Survivors of a chemical weapon called superflu confront pure evil in this updated and even more massive version of King's 1978 saga. ``The extra 400 or so pages . . . make King's best novel better still,'' said PW. `` A new beginning adds verisimilitude to an already frighteningly believable story, while a new ending opens up possibilities for a sequel."