So here we go, gripe #1 about The Enclave by Karen Hancock. But before I dig into it, allow me to post the following:
So if you want to keep the ending of the book a secret, you'd better stop reading now.
Like I said yesterday, part of the plot centers around a set of ancient sarcophagi. Director Swain, the head of the Kendall-Jakes Institute, believes that these large pods hold the secret to immortality. Of course, that's not what the pods contain. Instead ... are you ready for it? ... they contain sleeping Nephilim, the boogie men of Genesis 6. I suspected that's where the story was going, but when I got to where this is revealed for sure, I rolled my eyes and said, "Not again."
To be frank, I'm getting sick of the Nephilim. It seems like Christian speculative fiction always comes back to the Fallen Ones of the antedeluvian world. Quite frankly, I'm getting sick of it. I can think of at least three books that center around the Nephilim and both of them were lousy. The Enclave wasn't as bad as them, but I'm not letting it off the hook.
Part of the reason why I have such problems with the Nephilim is because I disagree with their traditional origin story. Most people believe that they're the product of angelic and human sexual unions. The proof text that gets trotted out for that is Genesis 6:2 and then the proponents for this view trot out a bunch of pseudopigraphical texts from intertestamental times, none of which are considered canonical (although I did see some convoluted logical gymnastics once to bootstrap one of these books; it failed to persuade).
What it comes down to for me is that Genesis 6 in no way says that the Nephilim are the children of the sons of God mating with the daughters of men. I don't even think that "sons of God" in this case does refer to angels. My personal read on this story is that the descendants of Seth (the "sons of God") interbred with the descendants of Cain (the "daughters of men"). If you look at the genealogical information in Genesis 4 & 5, we see the family trees of both Cain and Seth. In Cain's tree, the seventh generation is Lamech, the guy who boasts to his two wives that he killed a man for looking at him funny (that's a loose paraphrase). In Seth's family tree, the seventh generation is Enoch, the righteous man who walked with God and was no more because the Lord took him. As the old cliche goes, "the apple doesn't fall far from the tree." Seth's descendants were more upright than Cain's. The union of the two branches of humanity resulted in the bad dragging down the good.
My other major problem with the portrayal of the Nephilim in The Enclave is how fantastical they are. They have laser beam eyes, they can set off electromagnetic pulses. And Hancock at one point details how there were three castes of Nephilim. I don't remember what they were at this point, but I do remember scratching my head and wondering, "Where did she come up with that?" I'm all for dancing on the end of tree branches when it comes to speculative fiction. Some of this book was too much of a flying leap for me.
So what did you think? Are the Nephilim a dead horse that we should stop whipping? Or am I just letting my theological convictions get in the way?
And if you don't feel like telling me off, you can submit your name for the drawing. Even those of you who entered yesterday, feel free to enter again.
Go check out what the other tourists have to say:
CSFF Blog Tour
D. G. D. Davidson
Todd Michael Greene
Heather R. Hunt
Rebecca LuElla Miller
Rachel Starr Thomson