Published: February 2017 by Instar Books
Format reviewed: E-book (mobi)
Genres: LGBTQIA, erotica. Stories are a mix of contemporary and speculative fiction.
Available: Publisher (print and electronic) ~ Amazon ~ Barnes & Noble
Disclaimer: I was provided with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.
A trans woman watches her sleeping lover and contemplates the moment of his departure. A genderqueer sissy fantasizes alone about connection in their hotel room. A trans woman adjunct professor and sex worker is hired for a sex party held by her colleges philosophy department. A trans boy has a Craigslist hookup with a queen embarked on detransition. A bodiless AI announces its gender, takes a lover, and works to revolutionize the world.
Presented here are thirty stories edited and with an introduction by Tobi Hill-Meyer that offer revolutionary erotic fantasies by trans people, about trans people, and for trans people at the crossroads of history, biology, anxiety, and love.
Editor’s note:I acquired a review copy of Nerve Endings on the recommendation of a friend. I thought reviewing it would be a good way to boost trans voices. However, once I started reading, I quickly realised I wasn’t the intended audience. Furthermore, this thread on Twitter from Corey Alexander made me realise I could be doing more harm than good by reviewing it. So, I invited Anne Rowlands for an Own Voices perspective on the anthology.
Transgender people are not a plot twist: the introduction of Nerve Endings reminds us of this essential point. It is a point recently discussed in Liz Duck-Chong’s essay on the play The Trouble with Harry and is also often used in more erotic novels in a way that is not only dehumanising but out-and-out stupid. A person who is transgender wants not to be treated as a special bit of “spice” or worse a surprise. They want to be wanted, loved, cared for, or just simply not to be told they are playing pretend.
The central idea of Nerve Endings is to help us realise and capture this in a way that keeps transgender stories present in our minds when we, the transgender audience, are at our most lonely. These stories keep us remembering that our lives are worthy. That we matter. Nerve Endings never shies away from being written by trans people for trans people. Anyone else who likes it, that’s fine, but it’s not for them, it’s for us. This was so clear as I read that I really understood why I was asked to write this review.
Nerve Endings is proud in its erotica and its kink, its few polyamorous tales. It is never there to shame, or to make readers feel less (or more) than what we are: a part of society, transgender or not.
Each story brings us into a universe that we can almost imagine is real. Even when the characters are a Demon and his summoner, or an AI and their partner, or just a simple trans woman, man or boi trying to make their way in the world.
I’m always a little left wanting with short stories anthologies. Each tale is almost always slightly less than perfect, ending bitter-sweet, or offering only a brief glimpse into the life and emotions of the characters. Almost every story left me wanting more. More of the characters. More of their love. More of the things they do to conquer their fears and anxieties. More orgasms. The unashamedly erotic, the consent, the kink, the characters and their needs and desires. It’s too much and not quite enough at the same time. I was left with a profound sense of needing–not just wanting–more. I really hope this is just the first serving of a new genre of positive, consensual stories about transgender people told in erotic, loving, caring and knowledgeable ways.
4 out of 5 stars.
Anne Rowlands is a transgender woman librarian, in her spare time she is also an artist and poet. You can find her on Twitter as @anne_rowlands.
Mirrored from Earl Grey Editing.
During the week, a loaf of Khorasan (kamut) flour.
Got in too late on Friday evening to make rolls for Saturday breakfast, so we had toast instead.
Today's lunch: fillets of lemon sole clear-simmered and served with a dipping sauce of soy sauce and ginger paste (these were a little bland and mushy. which may be because previously frozen, rather than fresh?); served with sticky rice with lime leaves, samphire steamed and tossed in butter, sugar snap peas roasted in pumpkin seed oil and splashed with bramble vinegar, and padron peppers (which Waitrose now stock, apparently).
Probably bread-baking during the week.
And now 8th June is a general election, and I have no time to campaign, and have to fight the guilt gremlins that think I should surely be able to carve some time out magically, somehow, and funnily enough being even more stressed does not increase my productivity, or help me sleep. This has not been the best week!
I've now logged out of Twitter and Facebook on my phone, so I can't take the stress with me everywhere. I've devoted the weekend to resting and sorting out money (thus removing some other stress). I'm behind on everything, but Facebook reminded me that I wrote this time last year about being behind on everything. While I'm still perpetually running too close to my limits, those limits have expanded in the last year. I'm routinely working a 5-day rather than a 4-day week, I'm studying at a higher level, and my fitness has improved a little.
So I'm going to trust that if I take care of myself, I can get through this. At least by 9th June some of my stressors are guaranteed to be gone.
I have many reasons to be thankful that they did, having walked upon those very hills myself; and on others, which were long fenced off against the public as the playgrounds of a privileged few.
Some of the original Trespassers were imprisoned, and I do not doubt that they would suffer harsher treatment if they tried such acts of civil disobedience today.
So, a question for the legally-minded Journallers who read this: what would the Trespassers be charged with today? And what would be their fate if any of them could not prove their cizenship, or looked ever such a little bit foreign?
Would my long-lapsed membership of the Ramblers Association, and my evident sympathy for their aims - I have led a ramble myself! - turn out to be a liability? Worse, perhaps, than the social consequences that arise when I reveal my ability to hold a lengthy conversation about 1980's hiking socks?
Things that have allowed me to get to this point:
1) fixing some of my writing-avoidant habits. Writing code isn't so very different from writing anything else, and if you can find reasons for not writing, you've found reasons for not programming.
2) exposure to more ad-hoc standards of coding. I can look like a Top Pro (TM) just by actually remembering to name things nicely and writing a line of comment. Bonus points for actually remembering to stick the thing in a VCS. Extra bonus points for a DVCS.
3) acceptance that basically I'm never going to carry lots of important language syntax around in my head. I will look it up in the language reference, and that's completely OK. No-one's stalking me as I write, complaining that I can't remember the syntax for opening files; I can just look this shit up.
4) and searching Stack Overflow for your error messages is absolutely a-OK. We live in an age where we're not limited by the storage capacity of our squishy brains, we can outsource this to silicon and that's completely fine. I may end up remembering some of it, because remembering Really Pointless Shit is what I do, but I'm under no obligation to do so, and not remembering it doesn't make me a bad person.
5) Having observed Proper Programmers (TM) programming in my general vicinity, a lot of time is spent swearing at computers, complaining about shitty error messages and poorly-documented libraries, wailing that the bloody program doesn't work, groaning that they fucked up something small and now the bloody thing doesn't work again etc. Unless it's something completely straightforward for the programmer, this happens quite frequently. The difference between them and me is how much they can get done in the 20 or 30 minutes between the expressions of frustration, and that's obviously something that improves the more you practise it. This makes me feel less bad about spending time being generally depressed about how my program's not working, since the natural state of a computer is not to work until you hit it with a bloody big stick.
6) (related to 5) When I did my OU degree, basically I could Just Do the exercises for most of my programming modules. I'd follow the instructions, the thing would work, and lo, I would be a happy stoat (if slightly bored). It wasn't until my distributed systems module that I ever got to the point of having a mistake more serious than a misplaced semi-colon or unclosed brace - I managed to cause my computer to try to open infinite copies of Firefox and a SQL database owing to a badly-formed while loop. I thought that then writing things that didn't work was a massive failing in my understanding, and that Real Programmers wouldn't have this problem. I didn't realise that the natural state of a program is it not working, and that Real and Proper Programmers did indeed pass through a stage where their code didn't work, it's just that lots of them experience this when they were ten, and you couldn't do quite a lot of things. Also, Stack Overflow teaches us that hardly any programs work these days until you've looked up how to do it on Stack Overflow (as far as I can tell, this is the only way to learn how to do web programming). Programming is (eventually) a really good way of learning that you don't know how to do a thing yet, but that it is probably fixable.
7) While I don't have excellent coding skills yet, I do have a bunch of high-level skills about how things fit together that means I can imagine how different bits of a complex system affect other bits. I can prove to my satisfaction where problems are going to be intractable, and not worry when it turns out to be really difficult.
All of this means that I can sit down and write a short program to check things (plus test data sets), and this took me less time than it would have done three years ago, even though I've not written much code since I started my current job.
It seems that DW has become more active, and I hope that it gains the critical mass to stay this way.
For those of you who have reanimated their LJ/DW after a few years, I am still a bit geeky, still noodling spreadsheets on a trading floor in London (but maybe elsewhere in a year or so), still writing Limericks (only, now getting prizes for it), still practising Aikido (quite a bit), and still, well... Me. Only more so.
...If you're catching up from a few years ago, I am married to the lovely ewt ('Ewtikins' on LJ but please don't go there, we both have people on our social graph who really don't need your clicks adding to the continuing construction of antisocial network graphs by hostile actors), wheezing a bit (London's pollution is geting to me), and extending my range of terrible puns into Franglais.
If you're catching up from a few days ago, I'm back from Eastercon, where I took part in the most enjoyable panel of my life - on the future of Artificial Intelligence - and I wonder, in retrospect, whether I ended up dominating a discussion among people who know a bit more about it than I do. Also, I am very, very sorry about *that* remark in the Dead Dog party, on the subject of Hadrians wall, the Picts, and tinned food.
One morn I go to the stables to give my lovely Jezzie-girl an apple or two, and pat her upon the nose and say, alas, there will be no riding today for I have some several calls to make among the philanthropick set, and then go take tea at N- House. Sure I know not what that will be like in what they call their bachelor establishment.
And as Jezzie and I make amiable to one another, I see from the corner of my eye Ajax, with such an aspect that I confide he desires a word with me, so I pat my lovely mare upon the neck and turn to say, how now, Ajax, was there some matter you wisht open to me?
He indicates that 'tis indeed so, looks about to ensure that Nick is not by – I daresay he goes in take his elevens – and beckons me into an empty stall.
He says that I will mind that Sam Jupp came t’other morn to hold converse with him – I nod – and what is afoot is that the owner of the livery stables takes a mind to sell up and go live as a gentleman in the country.
O, says I, and thus the Jupps will find their occupation gone, and indeed also their home?
Ajax shrugs and says, 'tis like he will try sell it as a going concern - for 'tis an exceeding prime location for a livery-stable – but even that may bring down trouble – would a new owner want to keep on the fellows that are already there, might he have other plans for the accommodation – they are all in a great fret about the matter, just as they were getting back upon their feet, with Mr Jupp recover’d, several of the children now out in good service –
Let me consider upon the matter, says I. I suppose, even had they had some money put by, 'twould not have been enough to buy the place themselves.
I walk away, thinking. Sure I daresay I might go find places as grooms for Mr Jupp and Sam among those with whom I have interest, but 'twould still likely mean breaking up the family.
'Tis a conundrum.
And sure I find other conundrums when I go make my calls among the philanthropick set where a deal of matters gang aft aglay and I am oblig’d to make many notes in my little memorandum book. But, 'tis very agreeable when people will go say that there is none can hold a drawing-room meeting to match Lady B-'s: sure I am a vain creature. Matters go less awry than I fear’d with the optickal dispensaries, for I confide they have been got into good practices: but, even so, there are a few brangles that I must go soothe.
But at length I am done with 'em for the time being, and may instruct Ajax to go convey me to N- House.
The footman at the door is brisk enough in answering and showing me in but as I look about the hall as I enter I observe those signs of a household that has no lady keep her hand upon it. I frown a little at this, for I confide that the housekeeper is still the same, and before, tho’ ‘twas a gloomy place, did not show such signs of neglect.
I am shown into a drawing-room in which sits Lady Emily along with her brothers, that all rise to make me a leg upon my entrance.
La, says I, let us not stand upon ceremony.
Em minds that she should ring for tea and does so. This comes fairly expeditious in a good, tho’ not ostentatious, tea-service, and is a good fresh hot brew.
Mr Geoffrey M- takes a sip and looks up from his cup and says, 'tis not the tea we are accustom’d to be serv’d.
Em says, she doubts not 'tis the best company tea in honour of Lady B-.
Lord U- sighs and says that sure they do not need to make such a difference, but he dares say that the household has got into that miserly habit. But they should not be discoursing of domestick troubles before Lady B-.
Sure, says I, why should you not? For I am in considerable supposition that well-run domestick matters are the basis of a comfortable household, and even do you go furbish up the place so that 'tis brighter and less gloomy, 'twill still be somewhat uneasy do you not have those under hand.
They all sigh, and Lord U- says that they would not oblige Mama to return to this house, that she takes in considerable dislike, even was she not so well-suit’d at O- House.
I see Em frown a little. Mayhap – she begins – o, very like 'tis an entire foolish notion – but sure I have seen how Nan has been oblig’d take up the domestick affairs at O- House and D- Chase, and lamenting that she did not give enough mind to studying upon the matter afore she was wed, and saying that she does not how she might contrive was it not for that pearl amongst housekeepers, Mrs Atkins. And, she goes on with a great sigh, I daresay that one of these days I shall have an establishment of my own to manage, tho’ sure I hope 'tis later rather than sooner. So, might I not move back here, and undertake the matter?
Mr Edward M- bursts into a laugh and says, you would go practise upon your brothers, is that it? For cannot matter does any ill come to 'em from domestick mismanagement -
Lord U- gestures to him and he is silent. Why, Em, he says, 'tis a most generous offer, for I fear 'twould be a tedious thankless business. But indeed I think we might be more comfortable here.
She looks at me and say, O, Lady B-, do you think it might answer?
(Had I not had precisely this thought in my own mind?)
Why, says I, 'tis a likely plan. Perchance you might go lesson yourself a little with some lady that is us’d to the management of an establishment of this size.
I see them all considering over this proposal and then Mr Edward frowns and says, but should Em not have some chaperone?
Em groans loudly and says, what, have some fusty about the place? 'twould be an entire bore.
No, says Lord U-, Eddy has the right of it, you are a young unmarry’d lady, and moreover, we are oblig’d to conduct ourselves most particular proper -
Indeed, says Mr Geoffrey, when I think of the jests we are oblig’d to smile at concerning snakes.
They all sigh.
And then Mr Edward says, but what about Mama’s Cousin Lalage?
They look about one another.
Why, says Em, one could have no objection to Cousin Lalage, tho’ indeed, have not seen her for a very great while. But – o, sure I let family gossip pass over my head – was she not affianc’d to some clergyman?
Really, Em, says Mr Geoffrey, do you not recall the tragick story? The fellow went visit some college friend of his that had gone into the mission field, for he had some notion to that line himself, contract’d a fever out there in the South Seas, and dy’d.
O, cries Em, now I mind me of the tale. And she has had no other offers?
Living as quiet as she does in her papa’s vicarage? says Lord U-. Besides, 'tis give out that her heart is in the grave.
Em turns to me and says, Oh, Lady B-, do you think that might answer? She must be thirty at least, a vicar’s daughter, I daresay she has some knowledge of housekeeping –
Hmm, says I, might your dear mama invite her for a visit to O- House, so that you could look her over then and see if 'twould answer? But, says I, that is in longer prospect – why do you not take me around the house a little so that I might advize upon how it might be furbisht up somewhat more chearfull?
So we do so, and sure I feel does the Earl not go cast a general pall of gloom over the place, may be brought to some very pleasing effects. Will require, I point out, some disbursement of funds; and Lord U- says that he has been in consultation with their men of business, and he confides that they will not come to penury do they so.
I make a deal of little notes in my memorandum book and say, I will write these up fair for 'em.
They say they go dine at O- House, entire informal, just family, will I not join 'em?
Alas, says I, am not free to take up this exceeding kind invitation: perchance upon some other occasion.
Mr Geoffrey remarks that he dares say that now Lady B- is return’d to Town she has a deal of invitations.
'Tis so, says I.
Tho’ 'tis not that I am bidden about in Society: ‘tis that my darlings come visit me for a nice little supper together and triangular matters.
So I return home, and go change my gown, and then go sit in my library a little while inditing my thoughts upon how N- House might be quite vastly improv’d, and when I have done that, spend a little time about arranging my books, and mind that there are some volumes that I must return to Lord O-, and also that I must find out somewhat concerning the history of Sicily in the Middle Ages, without I go enquire of Mr N-.
'Tis most exceeding agreeable, but even more agreeable is to return to my pretty parlour as the time draws near, and take a quick look at the miniatures of my sweet Flora, and 'tis not long at all afore Hector shows in my best belov’ds and we go embrace one another very close.
And they remark that sure, they have not yet seen over all these fine improvements I have made; so I take them into the newer part of the house and show off my dining-room and my fine library, and sure there are a deal of kisses exchang’d and my dear wild girl shows some disposition to becoming saucy.
So I say that I confide we should go meditate a little upon triangles and I daresay 'twill give us a fine appetite for supper. And 'tis conced’d a most excellent plan and we go be about it.
O, 'tis a most happy thing to be thus remet with my darlings.
I suppose I should not have been expecting anything sensible from Hollywood racial politics, but for fuck's sake, don't the film people know what it looks like they're saying when they have Fawcett being Insistently Anti-Racist Person Who Insists Amazonians Are People Too, in the face of openly racist opposition, yet, all over the movie-- which from what I gather is also rather inaccurate-- and then heavily imply that he was not only killed but also eaten by natives without including the refutation which was right there in the source material for them?
This is also a film which comes down pretty heavily on Percy Fawcett being Right About Things, and I'm not even sure it was intentional on the writer's part. It's just that when the issues somebody has are things like 'is heavily overinvested in cultural conceptions of masculinity', you have to be very blatant when you demonstrate that those are actual issues, because our culture is so approving of extreme behavior along those lines that disapproval needs to be obvious in-text just to bring us to neutral. Sure, Fawcett almost certainly got himself and his son killed, but the film goes to great (and, from what I hear, also a-historic) lengths to say that maybe they just went off to live with the natives, plus the whole thing very much has an air of It's How He Wanted To Go He Was Following His Noble Dreams. Also, even when we see Fawcett doing things that are demonstrably pig-headed, sexist, and aggravating, he winds up getting vindicated by the narrative over and over again. We never see anyone arguing against his expeditions from the level of logistics on which I am assured they were bad ideas; we see people arguing against them because they are Bad People, or because they are his family and they want him home, which we are assured is understandable and tragic but just How It Had To Be.
In conclusion, I'm definitely going to read the book, because the film, despite a reasonable central performance by Charlie Hunnam (perhaps a bit too restrained) and a very fine side performance by Robert Pattinson (unrecognizable beneath layers of fuzz), some pretty cinematography, and occasional attempts at symbolism, comes off as racist, insultingly simplistic, and just not overall what you want Hollywood to do with a good source text.
Eventually we worked our way down the mudslide to a point where we could hear the speakers from the main stage without getting blasted by the amplification. My father took pictures. Meeting up with Dean and Lily, I gave directions by the papier-mâché 45-on-a-stick with a separate sign for its speech bubble ("Believe me, climate change is a Chinese hoax! Sad!" while standing in a pants-on-fire flaming barrel of Exxon-Mobil) and held my blue butterfly-patterned umbrella aloft like a torch. I saw gaudior and nineweaving and B. for about fifteen seconds before they disappeared with Fox, whose baby sling was pinned this time with a "Test Tube Baby" flag. We never did find choco_frosh and Peter. We had planned to stay the entire duration of the rally, but around a quarter to four the weather became just too cold to stand around in and we set off down Boylston Street in search of hot drinks, ending up at Patisserie on Newbury and then Trident Booksellers & Café. A great deal of walking later we met my mother in Porter Square.
The signs were great. Lots of variants on "Make America Think Again." Lots of "There Is No Planet B." Several pro-vaccination and medicine, of which my favorite was "Got Plague? Yeah, me neither. Thank a Scientist!" A woman in a Spock sweatshirt carried "The needs of the planet outweigh the greed of the lewd." I have no idea what the relevant research was, but I swear I saw "Plankton Don't Want None Unless You Got Funds, Hon!" On general principle I was rather fond of "The Oceans Are Rising and So Are We," "Think Like a Proton—Always Positive," and the several variations on "I'm with Her," pointing in all cases to Gaia. "The Climate Is Changing—Why Aren't We?" "Science Is Inoculation Against Charlatans." I did not expect to see so many shout-outs to Beaker and Dr. Bunsen Honeydew, from paired signs to a person in a full-body Beaker costume whose small plain sign read simply "MEEP!" I saw signs for Alan Turing. I saw signs for Millie Dresselhaus. One of the speakers was a deaf scientist; several were women of color. My father said it reminded him of the be-ins in New York in the 1960's, only with more porto-potties and lab coats. It was definitely a compliment.
And now, as always, not to lose this energy. What next?
Because Kohske's health has recovered enough that she can resume work on Gangsta again. It resumes serialization next month! Pretty excited. The Cursed spin-off is tiding me over and it's a perfectly fine prequel, but you can tell it's not Kohske. Kohske just has this amazing ability to pack subtext and nuance in her illustrations without having to rely on text or even flashy, obvious action (which Cursed is full of). Some of her most powerful panels don't have a single word in them at all -- the scene where Nicolas listens to Alex sing by pressing his ear against the speaker...and then you later see him jumping off the roof humming to himself, the scene where Alex holds Nicolas's hands even though you can see the bruises he accidentally left behind when he grabbed her in the throes of a seizure. So I am excited
Since the manga's hiatus is ending, I've resentfully returned to Tumblr because that's where the fandom is. I have a couple ideas for fic & if I want any audience whatsoever, I need to promote them there. In terms of platform, there is a Gangsta DW community -- gangsta_manga -- but it's a ghost town and I'm not sure if the mod is even around anymore. Maybe I'll start posting to the community? Sharing the latest news seems to be a good way to start. It's just a little depressing to post to a community of 2 though. I reach more people posting here! Which doesn't solve the problem. Hmm.
In other, somewhat more embarrassing, news, I seem to have fallen into Overwatch fandom. I don't even play videogames, let alone this one! But so many people I know are into it, so I decided to check it out. It doesn't take a lot of time because there's not much canon lore to pick up, it turns out. The cutscenes from Devil May Cry are a billion times longer!
Anyway, a lot of these usernames I'm seeing now make sense! And in even more embarrassing news, the fanart I've been seeing of what I thought to be an AU Korra? Not Korra at all. Explains why this AU Korra was remarkably consistent among different artists! Oh God. Not one of my most stellar moments, let me tell you.
They were in tiny bottles, not sprays but a kind of oil thing, with an applicator a teeny version of a roll-on deodorant one.
The man encouraged me to try a bunch and told me about them. The oils are from Dubai, he says. Some were jasmine, musk, rose, even caramel. One was so fruity it smelled almost like bubblegum. I found a couple of "woody" scents I liked, including the specific cedar as well as two non-specified "woody" ones. It was one of those I bought.
I was really excited because I can't usually do perfumes: most scents and definitely anything that you spray is hard on Andrew's asthmatic lungs. I can't even have spray deodorant without him coughing and complaining I make the whole room "smell pink." (Usually, I think once it smelled purple.)
But since these were oily rub-on things (the guy made a point of saying several times they're alcohol-free), I figured they'd be more likely to be okay, like the solid Lush perfume I used to have.
So I think I like the smell of the one I got, but even hours and hamd-washes later, my wrists and the backs of my hands still smell like a whore's drawers, as the locals would say.
C.P. Snow's first published work was called Death Under Sail first published 1932, though actually it was the 1959 edition published by Penguin in 1963 which I had the dubious pleasure of re-reading (I'd first read it aged about 16 or so, when my father got it out from the library, and not recalled much of anything about it except that it happened on a wherry, which I knew about from Arthur Ransome, and a lot of the action does indeed take place around Horning and Potter Heigham.)
I picked up this particular copy in Cardiff, where I managed to have just the kind of secondhand bookshopping experience I'd hoped for in Oxford, but not managed. It has C.P.Snow's Author's Note at the front, the following extracts from which should have been sufficient warning not to proceed:
Why I started [he explains in the paragraph about that Death Under Sail was his first novel] with a detective story is obscure to me now and woul ahve been so at the time. I suspect I had a sense that I was one of those writers who have to nose their way among experience before they know what they are good for. Anyway, I did write a detective story, a stylized, artificial detective story very much in the manner of the day. At the time it was very well received, and I found that, having partially escaped from the scientific trap [he was 26 at the time] I was being lured into another. There were all sorts of temptations set up in from of me to get me to set up as a detective story writer.
In fact, I never had any intention of writing another. They are great fun to write, but they take almost as long as a novel proper: I already knew what I wanted to do, and I also knew there would be scarcely time enough for that. If I had had another life-time to play with, though, I shoulc have liked to write some more detective stories. I shouldn't have gone on with the convention in which Death Under Sail was written. I should have had a shot at the real roman policier, bringing the story as near to a realistic novel as I could. No one, not even Simenon, has done quite what I should like to see. I believe the field is still wide open.
The level of condescension is staggering, especially given that while one might be quite proud of Death Under Sail as a first novel in 1932, by 1959 he should have simply let it sink without trace.
It's particularly weird to experience because while you can tell Snow knows he's working within an artificial, convention-heavy genre, but Death Under Sail is so tin-eared about the conventions in question. It's almost as if once he knows he's not expected to be naturalistic, all attempts to be realistic fall out of the window, too. Also, "artificial" is one thing, as are flat characters, as are stereotypes. People being disassociated from the events depicted to the point of psychopathy is something else entirely.
Basically, Death Under Sail would have worked extremely well as an Agatha Christie. One of the reasons it would have worked well is that either or both of the first person narrator, irritating Ian or his mate Finbow**, who is the detective, would have realised that if one is in a situation where the owner of a yacht has been shot by one of the the other five people on board, all of whom are now staying with you in a borrowed bungalow in Potter Heigham (i) one is at uncomfortably close quarters with a murderer;(ii) someone (not necessarily the murderer) is in danger of being hanged; and (iii) if the murderer starts to panic, someone else is likely to end up dead. And the reactions of the characters would be shaped by that underlying fear.
None of these thoughts appear to cross anyone's mind in Death Under Sail. People go out for midnight snogging sessions in the middle of Hickling Broad in motorboats and the worst that happens is that the housekeeper, Mrs Tufts (whose bolshie attitude to having unexpectedly to cater for seven people, one of whom is a murderer and all of whom are rude to her is put down entirely to her being prudish and Not Our Sort Dear) gets stroppy.
Mostly they sit around playing bridge without even considering doing things like speaking to their lawyers or anything of that sort. No idea that there could be consequences of even being suspected of murder crosses their minds.
The detective inspector, Aloysius Birrell, is ludicrous even by the standards of the police in inter-War detective fiction. He works solo. There is no press interest. One might think that Harley Street practitioners were shot at the helms of private wherries on the Norfolk Broads every day of the week.
It really is an example of Snow, who name-checks Sayers at least twice, clearly assuming anything any of the writers in the genre can do, he can do better by virtue of being a proper novelist and the result is frankly bizarre.
*(yes, I know he later became a Lord, but not when Flanders and Swann made that particular crack.)
** Finbow believes that since cricket went to the dogs as a result of