David Brin and John Scalzi are good choices. Spider Robinson's classic Callahan's Crosstime Saloon
is amazing. You can't go wrong with a book about a bizarre bar...
Mike Resnick's Santiago
and the companion novel Dark Lady
are strictly character-driven and awesome tales that stand apart from the norm, one about a bounty hunter and the other about a woman who seems to keep appearing in photos and other recorded mediums over thousands of years.
For slam-bang space opera of the first order try Keith Laumer's Earthblood
. There's a wild novel called And Having Writ
about aliens landing/crashing in Teddy Roosevelt's Presidency and changing the course of our history. It's told from the alien's viewpoint and is hilarious.
Anything by Harlan Ellison is "soft" scifi. You might try a collection of shorts by Barry Malzeburg called Welcome To the Monkey House
. Norman Spinrad is another "soft" writer who avoids technical details for mind-wrenching emotional/sociological tales.
H Beam Piper is a personal fave. His Little Fuzzy
is a classic and pretty obviously influenced Speilberg to write E.T., his two collections, Federation
are reflections of history through a scifi lens and his other collection, Paratime!
is ground-breaking alt-hist work.
Jack McDevitt's Eternity Road
is fun, if you can find it the SM Stirling Draka
series(or the omnibus edition) is a great tale, if somewhat dark and nauseating. If you like a D&D-with-guns-and-ammo approach Mary Gentle's Grunts!
is side-splittingly funny, Glen Cook's Wizardry Compiled
is a unique approach to computer programming and magic, Zelazny's Princes of Amber(published recently as The Amber Chronicles V 1, 2)
, is both top-notch and genre-defying and Peter Hamill's Forever
is one of the most haunting books I've ever read. Oh, and saving the best for last- Jack Finney. Time and Again
. Also, Rewind
by William Sleator. Both are about time-travel and yet they are nothing alike. Both are the kind of books that leave you feeling like someone peeled your scalp back and let a breeze pass over your brain. If you need more, PM me. I currently own about 4500 scifi books and have read 2-3 times that so I have a good knowledge base to draw on....