990066

990066

Set against the background of a time after “the sickness,” this novella tells the tale of Kurta, a picker for a company that, as one way of helping keep the populace healthy, sends groceries out to customers who are no longer allowed to shop for themselves. Kurta lives vicariously through her pick lists, imagining the lives of many customers through what they order. The order for one of Kurta’s regular customers always includes mangoes as well as explicit instructions about expected produce condition and so forth. Though they’ve never met, Kurta develops a crush on this customer, the titular 990066.

When circumstances lead to Kurta meeting the customer, she is both excited and terrified. Then she learns that customer 990066 is one of her real-life idols, fictional KPop personality Ming Kim. The two women develop a relationship that must navigate significant inequities in their socioeconomic status as well as almost antithetical ways of dealing with intimacy. Their personalities are complementary yet different enough that one might wonder if these two can work as a functional couple.

This is a futuristic romance that may or may not end happily ever after. The unnamed sickness could easily be COVID-19 and the measures taken to keep people safe could be extensions of current shop-from-home practices. Kurta’s emotional struggles might resonate with anyone who’s ever suffered from feelings of insecurity about whether or not they’re lovable. Ming is a badass who isn’t afraid to go after what she wants. And she wants Kurta. The differences in their personalities make up most of the conflict in the story.

It’s a well-written and interesting take on a possible future that one could imagine being the present. Though it’s a lesbian romance, these events could happen to any two people navigating their personal baggage and trying to have a relationship during challenging times.

A version of this review appears on both the Liminal Fiction and the Queer Sci Fi websites.

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