Re: Sci-Fi Recommendations - for the unenlightened
I don't think this one has been mentioned yet, though others of his have (but I can't resist mentioning this one as I love it so):
Arthur C. Clarke Rendezvous with Rama
Never fails to evoke a sense of wonder, awe and mystery for me.
Excellent list of recommendations, most of my faves are in there somewhere. A duo I read fairly recently that is worth checking out for the harder sci-fi types is Dan Simmons' Ilium and Olympos. Very inkeresting.
Others have done so but I must make mention of Iain M. Banks as I cannot help myself, he's my favourite "current" sci fi author. I can't choose a favourite book of his but his Culture series is fabulous (no need to read in order).