Scientist, Deceased Person
1941 – 1989
Who was Dan Alderson?
Daniel John "Dan" Alderson was a scientist at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in California, and a prominent participant in science fiction fandom. He came from a middle-class family and had diabetes. A high school science fair project on the gravitational fields of non-spherical bodies won him a college scholarship to Caltech and a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, where he wrote the software used to navigate Voyagers 1 and 2.
A member of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, an Official Editor of the comic book APA CAPA-alpha, and an early member of gaming fandom, he came into contact with a number of science fiction writers, notably Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, who, in their books, credit Dan Alderson with ideas that inspired some of their science fiction, notably the Alderson drive and the Alderson disk. As "Dan Forrester" he is a prominent character in Lucifer's Hammer.
Alderson did not write science fiction himself, but for his own amusement created the imaginary planet of Wibblefubwilda, a planet where everyone gets his heart's desire. He died at an early age from complications of diabetes. He is remembered as a patron saint of the Los Angeles Science Fantasy Society, which honored his memory with a parking space reserved in his name in front of their clubhouse until they moved to a new location without dedicated parking.
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