jrolla wrote:i totally second that (iain banks, i mean). To convince you ... what can I say? Banks is funny, cruel, violent, very engaging, and also insightful. Even his lesser books were quite enjoyable.
best sci-fi writer for me is iain banks (who you dont like), so well worth trying William Gibson - neuromancer and the like are some superb works
I would start with 'The Player of Games' because it's one of the best but also does not require too much knowledge of the Universe. I would avoid 'Expression' for the reverse reasons.
Other than that, I just started the 'His Dark Materials" Trilogy by Philipp Pullman. It's pretty fantastic (in both readings of the word), but easily the most engaging book I read this year.