the culture series (1987 – 2012) of sci fi books by iain m banks
amazing start and middle of the series although some of the last ones may not be so startling. start with the player of games, then read the awesome use of weapons, then go back to the first book in the series consider phlebas (not the best book). then you must read the rest in order up to the last culture book – the hydrogen sonata
foundation series (1951 – 1993) by isaac asimov
the old original foundation book series is from the 1950’s and the ideas are great. then in the 1980’s and 1990’s asimov comes back to the foundation universe with some prequels (preludes) and other books and delivers a superb beginning and ending to the series.
ilium (2003) by dan simmons
wow. takes a great and unique idea and gets as much out of it as he can. start could be a bit awkward if you instantly turn off when books involve what seem to always turn out to be endless greek gods. the author sometimes shows off with all the detail of what he has obviously taken time and pride in learning. hang in there as its a wonderful space sci fi book.
hyperion (1989) by dan simmons
another good space science fiction book by this author. there is a rather slow bit near the start that is essential to the story so plod through that and then enjoy the unrest.
alastor series (1973 – 1978) by jack vance
good space drama, more of a book about people in sci fi worlds than non stop intergalactic wars. 3 different books (trullion: alastor 2262, marune: alastor 933 and wyst: alastor 1716) that people seem to think are not connected in any way apart from being set in the slastor cluster. muppets.
mars trilogy (1993 – 1996) by kim stanley robinson
the saga based on the terraforming and colonisation of mars, starting with the red mars book, then green mars and lastly blue mars. fantastic series of books where the author explores and pushes the boundaries, imagination and story of what/how humans could colonise the red planet.
the forge of god (1987) by greg bear
this book and others by greg bear are usually geeky sci fi. if you want proper sci fi then these are for you. mixes lots of themes and thoughts into each book.
tactics of mistake (1971) by gordon r dickson
superb retro sci fi story involving war on other planets but with a link to earth. not advanced future technology but alternative thinking for military conflicts and perhaps some aspects of being a human in a world that controls you. part of the dorsai series. want a bit more of a detailed review?