"The Stars my Destination" by Alfred Bester was published in 1956, so it stands as the last of the pre space-age sci-fi novels. The hero is Gully Foyle and he is a man on a mission. He is out to exact retribution to the occupants of a space liner who ignored his distress signals and left him to die in deep space. It's a brilliant epic story, and is Bester's best novel by far. Neil Gaiman writes in the forward that it stakes a claim to be the first cyberpunk novel, albeit thirty years before the genre was established. I've read it at least four times in the last forty years, and I can highly recommend it. 10/10.
"Stand on Zanzibar" by John Brunner. First published in 1968. This is a stunning book, written in the 1960s but set at the turn of the 21st century. The title refers to the fact that if every person alive was given a space 2ft by 1ft, they would all fit on the island of Zanzibar. By the time the novel ends, they have overflowed the island and are standing in the water. It deals with the pressures of conflicting world ideologies, overpopulation, how advertising and propaganda can shape our worldview, and features a character called Chad C Mulligan, a socioligist who was so appalled at mankind that he just dropped out. But not before publishing a book called "The Hipcrime Vocab" which was duly banned by the authorities. Brunner predicts legalised recreational drug use, intelligent computers, politics by assassination, and a state of war between conflicting ideologies. And spontaneous riotings and "muckers"- people who just go beserk and run amuck, killing as many people as possible. Spooky. 10/10
"Atlas Shrugged" by Ayn Rand. First published 1957. Over 10 years in writing, this is a stunning read. Set in the near future (from a 50s viewpoint), it sets out what inevitably happens when socialism is allowed full rein. Eerily prescient. 10/10.