In the bright daylight, we sure were an optimistic bunch of baby boomers, I'll grant you that.
But at night, before the glowing screen ?
It was all about invading body snatchers and slimy Blobs and radioactive mutant ants eating New York.
My mom wasn't alone in liking to read sci fi short stories and by 1961, so did I.
Most had been written between the 1930s and the 1950s, long before being bundled in science fiction hard cover anthologies in the early 1960s - these were not your current SF, by any means.
Even as a twelve year old I could tell that the older stories (which I now know were written in the pre-war late1930s and early 1940s) had a totally different atmosphere from most of those set in my own time (actually written from the very late1940s onwards, ie in the post-war period .)
Adult re-reading only confirms it ---- and the literary critics, much more SF-oriented than me-- helped explain why.
Production SF pre 1945 vs Impact SF post 1945
Hard SF ,"production SF", really suffered a loss of faith after 1945, while soft SF, "impact SF" became what the SF magazine readers got to read (because, perhaps, that was all that talented SF writers felt like writing !)
Now I have borrowed (and adapted) the terms "production science" and "impact science" , originally conceived by Canadian-born sociologist Allan Schnaiberg in 1980 --- I first came across these terms in the work of Myanna Lahsen who I feel offers the best grained explanation for the reasons why famous scientists become infamous deniers.
Best as in , natch , 'cause it agrees with my assessment.
Production science was about the scientists who designed and built linear, deterministic, discrete, man-made "machines" : successfully, on time and under budget, end of story.
Impact science was the scientists who went outside the lab or worksite, into the garden where the machines had been placed and asked, how did this new machine react to all its human, biological and physical neighbours - and them to it.
It was a complex, chaotic science and so unpredictable and unexpected results were the norm of their discoveries.
As in "atomic bomb tests, done to defend America from Communist attack, end up creating mutant giant killer ants from harmless American garden ants - and they destroy New York - while the sneaky Russian Commies sent in humanitarian aid and assistance to a grateful New York state".
Hard "production' SF is Denier porn ; soft "impact" SF is sci fi for Greens .
Hiroshima Atomic Energy and Auschwitz Eugenics had made many an optimistic 1939 NY World's Fair SF Convention attendee lose a little faith by late 1945 - and it showed in their writing : most SF writers became proto-greens but some remained proto-deniers.....