I've always enjoyed asimov

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I agree with that view of Asimov, one of my little quibbles. I'm not actually very fond of his characters in general, I like his ideas & plots, but his characters and style are not my favorite. I enjoy his essays sometimes more than his fiction.


If you want to read a very different style than Asimov, Ruddy Rucker goes into quite a bit of detail about how the created characters feel and think about themselves and their lives - he focuses quite a lot on on both mechanical and biological artificial life forms. I'm not crazy about his human characters, but his style is crudely energetic cyber punk that can be fun; you might like it if you like Amy Thompson, since they are both considered to be "cyberpunk" for what that's worth. 

Also for the points of view of non-human or trans-human characters I enjoy Jeff Noon - author of Vurt & Nymphomation. His style is quirky and cyber-punkish, I guess, way more artsy & poetic than old school writers like Asimov, which is neither good nor bad to me, just an observation.
Garth Nix.  Phillip Pullman (I first read him without really realizing that he was anti-theist and before I was out of middle school.) I started off in such a freethinking home that I had no idea how dangerous theology can be...
As I do not generally read anything but non-fiction, when I do get the urge to read sci-fi, I usually go straight to Ben Bova.  I have read almost all of his books so far and really like his style of fact based fiction.  Sci-fi drama confuses me, probably due to a lack of imagination...i guess, but Bova's books are written with mounds a factual, researched details, which makes them much easier for me to read.

George R. R. Martin; Octavia Butler; Katherine Kurtz

Fritz Leiber is generally considered to be an fantasy rather than sci-fi author, but I like his stuff both for being well crafted, humanistic with amusing characters and commentary on the human condition, and it's sometimes called "crudely vulgar and anti-Christian" which are not bad things in my book. 



I'm also a huge fan of Stanislaw Lem - to me he reads like Vonnegut in that he seems to have a profound grasp of human nature at it best and worst, but with a bit more hard science elements in the mix. I also love both authors for their humor, and their willingness to be all kinds of funny - silly, goofy, surreal, bizarre, darkly funny / gallows humor, sly, childish, but then by turns crushingly tragic and heartrending. 



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