• Dwight Okita’s book, a little the worse for wear

In our Spring Books Issue we heard about the nuts and bolts of Chicago’s publishing industry. But hey—you don’t need a publishing house to get published. So on the Bleader this week we’re providing reviews of a handful of books self-published by local authors—in this case Dwight Okita and his novel The Prospect of My Arrival. Click to see what we’ve tackled so far.

Dwight Okita’s novel posits a near future in which scientists give an embryo the chance to get an early look at life. Drafted into a high-tech experiment, the Pre-born Project, a lucky multicellular diploid eukaryote named Prospect gets fitted out with a young man’s body, implanted with a chip that brings him up to speed on stuff like human speech, and introduced to a series of “Referrals,” each of whom is supposed to help him decide whether he wants to be born or take a pass on life and return to the “gene pool.” What a great premise! You could build a new Candide around Prospect, letting this purest of innocents loose to experience the Inquisitions and El Dorados of our times. You could write the ultimate stream-of-consciousness riff, imagining the imaginings of a primordial child. At the very least, you could take a good, hard, satirical look at the debate over when life begins.