A futurist who changed his given name to something a little more forward looking, FM-2030 to be specific, died Saturday night at a friend’s Manhattan apartment. An author, teacher and consultant to corporations, he was 69 and lived in Miami.
The FM might have stood for Future Man, Future Modular or Future Marvel, but he never said. He also did not like to answer questions about his nationality, because he considered himself a global person. He felt the same way about his age, because his latest artificial hip was only two years old, making the question, in his view, meaningless.
But he would have turned 100 in 2030. And, if his plans are realized, he might still.
FM-2030, who was known for his sunny optimism, had directed that his body be frozen by an Arizona foundation specializing in such things in the hope that doctors in the future will find a cure for pancreatic cancer, which his longtime friend Flora Schnall said was the cause of death.
Part of his futuristic vision is the idea that people will eventually become wholly made of synthetic parts, as their minds are transported vast distances through space. He predicted that humans would become ”post-biological organisms.”
He was ”launched,” his word for born, F. M. Esfandiary on Oct. 15, 1930, and legally changed his name in the mid-1970’s. Under both names, he thought very large thoughts, usually about an imaginary future that he described in great detail.
He said that someday a Santa Claus machine would produce three-dimensional objects in the manner of copying machines. This, combined with free energy from the sun, would produce limitless resources and eliminate competition.
Traditional families would be replaced by a Club Med morality, a good thing in the estimation of a man who never married because he resented the idea of humans belonging to other humans. Energy and other natural resources would be essentially limitless, he contended. Humans would become immortal.
”It’s just a matter of time before we reconstitute our bodies into something entirely different, something more space-adaptable, something that will be viable across the solar system and beyond,” he wrote in 1989.
”He thought that death was tyrannical,” said Ms. Schnall, a Manhattan lawyer. ”He wanted to do away with death.”
He saw himself as an anachronism. ”I am a 21st-century person who was accidentally born into the 20th,” he said. ”I have a deep nostalgia for the future.”
Many of his predictions were prescient. In a 1977 interview, he spoke of correcting genetic flaws and of fertilization and gestation outside the body. In 1980, he wrote of teleconferencing, telemedicine and teleshopping. He argued against the assumption that many more nursing homes would be needed in the 21st century, on the basis that health standards would improve, making nursing homes less necessary.
F. M. Esfandiary was the son of an Iranian diplomat. He was born in Belgium and lived in 17 countries in the first 11 years of his life. He said the experience influenced him to think of himself as a global citizen, and said there were no illegal immigrants, just irrelevant borders.
His looks and abilities helped him play citizen of the world. Courtly and handsome, he spoke Arabic, French, Hebrew and English. In the 1948 Olympics, he competed in basketball and wrestling for Iran. His novels were ”The Day of Sacrifice,” ”The Beggar” and ”Identity Card.”
At the time of the Iranian Revolution in 1979, the novelist Anne Tyler wrote that ”Identity Card,” published in 1966, was ”the perfect way to find out why so many fists are raised in Iran today.”
His books about the future were ”Optimism One,” ”Telespheres” and ”Are You Transhuman?” He was revising two others, ”Countdown to Immortality” and ”The Coming Age of Abundance” when he fell ill.
He taught at the New School for Social Research in Manhattan, the University of California at Los Angeles and Florida International University in Miami. He was a consultant for Lockheed, J. C. Penney and Rockwell International, Florida International University officials said.
He is survived by four sisters, Farideh Sadjadi of Baltimore, Fereshteh Jahanbani of New York, Forouzandeh Moghimi of Tehran, Iran, and Behjat Ghanbari of Bushehr, Iran; and a brother, Mohsen Esfandiary of Washington.
For now, his body is in Scottsdale, Ariz., immersed in liquid nitrogen in a thermos tank at the Alcor Life Extension Foundation. The foundation noted in a news release that no frozen mammal had been successfully thawed. Though he acknowledged that he would have no money if he woke, he said he would not care.
”I’ll be so glad that I’m back,” he said in an interview in The Palm Beach Post.
Written by Douglas Martin and published by the New York Times on July 11, 2000