I first read Wanderers in 2019, the year of its release. At the time, I felt that maybe Chuck Wendig might have gone over the top with his description of right-wing militia types. Sure, they’re stoked in paranoia and racism in real life, but would they really try to overthrow the government during a pandemic?* Despite all the things that happened in the years leading up to that summer, 2019-me was still full of naivete.
My first encounter with story came from the 1994 miniseries which aired on ABC. It starred Gary Sinise, Molly Ringwald, and a whole bunch of actors that I’d see on TV and movies throughout my adolescent years. While it didn’t have the best production value – it was a made-for-TV miniseries, after all – it still captivated my 11-year-old imagination. It became my gold standard for post-apocalyptic tales, especially those revolving around pandemics that wipe out humanity.
I didn’t read the book until 2009, when I found a copy at a used bookstore. This copy was a 1980, mass-market paperback which mirrored the 1978 hardcover; the only difference between the books – other than the obvious – were the date changes. In the 1978 edition, the apocalypse happed in 1980; in the paperback, the apocalypse was moved to 1985. For those not in-the-know, the 1978 edition was meant to be a much larger work; Doubleday had warned King that a book of such size would be too much for the market to bear. It wasn’t until 1990 that King’s original vision for the book came to fruition.