Re: What are some good soft sci-fi books?
I might also suggest A Canticle For Leibowitz by Miller. An exploration of the human soul and theology through a post-Armageddon world.
Viewing these themes in a first contact setting you can try
Mary Doria Russell 's The Sparrow
and its sequel Childern of God.
I also recommend China Miéville's Perdido Street Station.
A combination of steampunk and fantasy that I found weirdly compelling.
Onen i-Estel Edain, u-chebin estel anim