Is there anyone else here who's actually hardcore into SF? I can't get enough of it, provided it's done well. Charles Stross and Stephen Baxter are my two personal favorites.
Stross is more of a character-centric, nearish-future, political kind of guy. He's also incredibly witty. If you don't have a moderately good knowledge of theoretical physics and political concepts, along technological knowledge, you'll probably be put off by his sometimes technical writing. But if you know what he's talking about, it makes for an amazing story. My favorite book of his is Accelerando. It demands your reading if you enjoy science fiction in any form. He's got it available online for free. I've put it behind a spoiler; THIS BOOK CONTAINS ADULT THEMES. DO NOT READ UNLESS YOU ARE PREPARED AND OF AGE TO READ ABOUT SUCH THINGS. Regardless, it's still a hallucinogenic carnival of fun ideas.
Stephen Baxter's full of good ideas too; his longest series, the Xeelee Sequence is a HUGE space opera spanning from the beginning of the universe and the birth of the Xeelee species, all the way to somewhere around 500,000,000,000 AD, when the only remaining "life" in the universe are a few consciousnesses made from quantum wave functions floating around a neutron star, while the humans and Xeelee previously fled through a naked singularity to another universe. Epic series, in the literal sense of the word. This was my favorite series until I found Charles Stross. Easier to read than Stross's books if you don't have a very good knowledge of theoretical physics, but it's still good to know a thing or two about astrophysics. Start with Vacuum Diagrams, then read the Destiny's Children subseries, then read Ring.