I gotta jump back into this thread (after 1.5 years) to give a shoutout to Alastair Reynolds. I just read the first two books in his Revelation Space universe, and I don't have any better place to ramble about scifi novels than here, so here I go...
I'm no critic or anything, I just read books for fun, so I might not be able to explain very well why I'm enjoying what I've read so far. But anyway, there's something about the way every little action happens that makes everything so interesting when I would normally find certain scenarios or settings to be boring. Additionally, every event in the plot is also on the same level of... extremely interesting. (Everything the plot does is just interesting. It's pretty unbelievable)
The setting is also not quite like any space opera I've read. The way each planet is written is SO detailed and mixed. In other stories a planetary society might be generally "good" or generally "evil" or generally "[some other trait]" and maybe the writing only uses that planet to fill a role, whereas in Revelation Space each location has its own conflicts that take unique forms depending on the planet's history. It's all so... morally ambiguous? Whatever it is, I haven't read anything that did that quite so well.
There's actually a lot more I can say about it but I'm just gonna leave this how it is. Lol
For links, here's Chasm City
, the second book that I just finished reading, since that page has no full plot summary a.k.a. spoilers. These might be the kinds of books where spoilers will ruin everything.
tl;dr Revelation Space is too good