'Stand' Corrected : THE STAND The Complete and Uncut Edition by Stephen King (Doubleday: $24.95; 1,153 pp.)

Martin is on The Times' editorial staff.

With this expanded version of Stephen King's 1978 novel "The Stand," the reader gets more detailed conversations, further character developments and background regarding the multitudinous characters that carry this 1,153-page novel along. (The book originally was published at 840 pages because it was financially prohibitive to publish the original version at 1978 prices).

King gives us more asides and more scenes, especially ones illustrating the collapse of civilization across the United States in the wake of a government-manufactured "super-flu" that runs amok and decimates more than 90% of the U.S. population.

The other items added--besides 10 chapters of text which add up to 150,000 words--are a new foreword, a dozen black-and-white illustrations, a new beginning and ending, and an updating of the book from 1980 to 1990.

Is this all worth it? If this novel was good for you 12 years ago, then you'll love it even more now, though at this point, it's all pretty much preaching to the converted, especially those who like their horror on a humongous scale. For those who aren't King fanatics, this can be a really grim journey through death and senseless destruction.

King's facile command of character and language does help to pull the reader along, albeit frequently with reluctance, through the relentless despair of the situation.

A warning for the easily affected: Whatever you do; don't read "The Stand" if you've got a summer cold. . . .

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