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"it slowly dawned on me that the landscape of science is maybe what interests people a great deal in science fiction."
- Gregory Benford

Concrete Boxes  
  Self storage for your body - living space designed for people who spend most of their time ignoring their surroundings anyway.  

I couldn't resist adding this one. We already have living spaces like this (lots of us have lived in them at one or another point in our lives). But this definition and quote narrow it down considerably to the bare essentials: self storage for the human body.

Earth is old and crowded and awfully beat up. Most of the population lives in little concrete boxes for years on end, circulating from the kitchen to the bathroom to the virtual reality hookup, over and over, except for their lifetime's seven "outside years" during which they supposedly earn enough for their ninety-odd years on the dole.
From Earth Made of Glass, by John Barnes.
Published by Tom Doherty Associates in 1998
Additional resources -

Not really cheery, is it? On the other hand, if all you do is watch TV in your apartment, maybe this is all you really need. Think about it: you can get a nice 10'x10' air-conditioned self storage unit with lights and an electrical outlet for less than $100 per month. What do you pay in rent every month?

The notion of spending your lifetime in a box, cut off from the world and from others, was explored almost a century earlier in the prescient The Machine Stops by E.M. Forster.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Earth Made of Glass
  More Ideas and Technology by John Barnes
  Tech news articles related to Earth Made of Glass
  Tech news articles related to works by John Barnes

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