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"I realized there was a heavy-duty change coming in biology, and I could write a really compelling novel about catastrophic evolution, punctuated equilibrium."
- Greg Bear

Gnome  
  A person who requires so much life support, they are built into the chair.  

In the future world of Millennium the human genome has degenerated to the point where the lifespan has actually decreased, regardless of advances in medical technology.

Larry had elected to acknowledge his gnomehood all the way. Most of the gnomes at the other consoles looked like anyone else except they had thick bunches of cables running from their backs. Those cables ran into their chairs and down into hundreds of bulky machines in the basement.

…Larry's chair was part of Larry. It had no back. He sort of grew from it, planted there on the floor in front of his console. He looked like a bizarre chess piece.

From Millenium, by John Varley.
Published by Berkley Books in 1983
Additional resources -

This passage is in the voice of Louise Baltimore, one of the novel's protagonists. The future has given her something of a cynical attitude.

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Additional resources:
  More Ideas and Technology from Millenium
  More Ideas and Technology by John Varley
  Tech news articles related to Millenium
  Tech news articles related to works by John Varley

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