The Defining Science Fiction Books of the 1950s
Science fiction at its best captures the times in which it was written, reflecting the desires and fears of individuals and the society. Today we often remember the 1950s by its pop culture, watching old reruns of I Love Lucy and Leave it to Beaver, and forgetting it was the height of the cold war, when many thought Armageddon would be next week. If you were a teen in the fifties you remember Elvis, Buddy Holly and the birth of rock and roll. If you were a geeky baby boomer growing up in the sixties, you remember the 1950s as ground zero for sense of wonder science fiction. The decade that brought us H-bomb tipped ICMBs and blacklists also imagined Asimov's robots, Heinlein's juveniles, Clarke's Childhood's End, and Ray Bradbury's Martians. For the hardcore SF fan, the decade was defined by wonderful magazines like Astounding Science Fiction, F&SF, Galaxy and If, and publishers like Gnome, Shasta, Fantasy Press, Ace, Doubleday, and Winston.
This list comes from the essay The Defining Science Fiction of the 1950s by James Wallace Harris.