Many of you probably already know that Joe Hill, author of The Fireman is the son of Stephen King, author of The Stand. In addition to both books being centered around the struggles of survivors of a global plague, there are several other parallels between the two books that I want to outline here.
In interviews about The Fireman, Hill stated that many of the parallels are intentional. Some of these could be considered as spoilers, so read on at your own risk.
- Car Crash Contaminations – Early in The Stand, a superplague victim crashes his car into a gas station and gives the illness to Stu Redman, the main protagonist. John Rookwood, the fireman the title refers to, is contaminated by spores when another infected driver runs into a CVS Pharmacy and causes some propane tanks to explode.
- Tales of Two Harolds – Harold Lauder in The Stand starts out as an overweight teen who causes a lot of trouble for the community of survivors living in Boulder, CO. He keeps a detailed journal of his actions and feelings. Harold Cross in The Fireman is an overweight 25-yr-old who is an outsider in his community of survivors who also keeps a detailed journal. In The Stand, Nadine Cross killed Harold Lauder.
- A Pair of Pregnant Protagonists – Harper Grayson, protagonist of The Fireman, is pregnant with her first child, her goal is to remain alive long enough to give birth. Frannie Goldsmith of The Stand is also pregnant, but also unsure whether her baby will survive the superplague after being born. In addition, Grayson’s middle name is Frances – she gets asked if she can be called ‘Frannie.’
- Two Deaf characters Named Nick – Nick Andros in The Stand and Nick Storey in The Fireman
- Religious mothers – Mother Carol in The Fireman and Mother Abigail in The Stand both lead communities of survivors that are grounded in religion.
- Hive mind – (This is actually a parallel to King’s Cell, but I’m including it here anyway.) The spore that causes the outbreak in The Fireman results in a hive mind mentality for certain survivors who are able to tap into it. In Cell, the “phoners” flock together and share a common mind.
- Nozz-A-La – First seen in King’s Dark Tower series, a reference to this fictional soft-drink pops up late in The Fireman.
- “Crazy as a sh*t house rat.” – One of King’s most common catch phrases also turns up late in The Fireman. I haven’t encountered “Christ in a sidecar” yet. (I’d love to hear the origin of that particular phrase.)
- Firestarter – I can’t believe I forgot the obvious parallel to Firestarter. The Fireman has multiple characters who are able to do very interesting things with fire.
Here are some additions to the list, courtesy of the comments section:
- mention of family names ‘Deepneau’ and ‘Wannamaker’
- mention of the book Watership Down
- the ‘hand of god’
- the line “My life for you.”
- accusations of “forgetting the face of your father”
This doesn’t relate to The Fireman, but the 80s song The Stand, by a group called The Alarm, was based on Stephen King’s novel; the lyrics contain references to the Walking Man and Trashcan Man. You can watch the music video at the link provided.
If I come across any others while finishing The Fireman, I’ll revise the list. If you’ve read both books and know of any others I need to add, feel free to comment below.