Stieg Larsson and his love for science fiction

Fantasy Book Critic, a website devoted to fantasy and science fiction, has posted an excerpt from one of John-Henri Holmberg’s contributions to The Tattooed Girl, focusing on the sf authors Larsson read and the sf stories he wrote when still in his teens.

John-Henri Holmberg, the decades-long friend of Stieg Larsson and the man who first broke the story about what is in the “missing” fourth book in the Millennium novels, reveals additional details in The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson And the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time.

In this excerpt adapted from The Tattooed GirlJohn-Henri Holmberg tells readers how science fiction influenced Stieg Larsson’s personal values as well as those of the characters in the Millennium books:


Even in his early teens we know that Stieg’s favorite author was Robert A. Heinlein, whom Stieg always mentioned as his first literary love. Heinlein was central to modern science fiction, introducing greater technical and social realism into sf (science fiction), and preferring to write about the near future rather than the distant one. Heinlein infused his stories with his fascination for knowledge and technology, as well as his commitment to human liberty. Stieg read and re-read Heinlein for most of his life, finding in him an irresistible story teller and a great literary inspiration…

For many years, Stieg tried writing science fiction. But the books that, in the end, made him famous are crime fiction novels. Nevertheless, influences from science fiction can be found in the Millennium novels. In Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and The Diamond Age, the concept of a “distributed republic” is introduced; it means a “nation” where citizens and physical assets are scattered around the globe, often changing, in many loosely connected anarchist communities. This vision was adapted into the online “Hacker Republic” in the Millennium novels, where Lisbeth Salander is a “citizen.”

Other sf influences on the Millennium novels are less obvious but, I would argue, nevertheless important. Major themes-such as speculation about the future-may be missing but some subtle ones can be identified. Quite a few, I suspect, can be attributed toRobert A. Heinlein, who recurring theme is that a young and inexperienced protagonist learns from a sympathetic older and wiser character. I wouldn’t be surprised if this inspired Stieg to provide Lisbeth Salander with her wise guardian Holger Palmgren, or for that matter Mikael Blomkvist with Henrik Vanger.

For John-Henri Holmberg’s complete essays on Stieg Larsson as both a fan and a writer of science fiction, see “The Wellsprings of His Imagination,” Chapter 4 of The Tattooed Girl. The Tattooed Girl: The Enigma of Stieg Larsson And the Secrets Behind the Most Compelling Thrillers of Our Time by Dan Burstein, Arne de Keijzer & John-Henri Holmberg was published on May 10, 2011 via St. Martin’s Press.

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