Another vote for the Culture books and Ancillary Justice.
I recently enjoyed Connie Willis's Blackout and All Clear. Part sci-fi, part historical novels, really, they involve a bunch of time travelling academic researchers who go back to the UK in the early days of WWII and get stuck. This is part of a larger series about time travel and you might want to read the others first, I couldn't get hold of Doomsday Book and so had to infer the technical details as I went along.
Mary Doria Russell's ... duology? is that a word? ... The Sparrow and Children of God.
Sean McMullen's series starting with Souls in the Great Machine.
Greg Egan. He seems determined that everything he writes should disprove the adage that there are no new ideas in science fiction. This isn't always enough to carry a novel but his collections of short stories are excellent.
Neil Stephenson, I found The Diamond Age and Anathem particularly memorable.
The first two books of John Barnes' Thousand Cultures series are good. I found the last two disappointing.
Among the classics, I recommend A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter Miller and Keith Roberts' Kiteworld and Pavane. And for the sheer fun of it, Lest Darkness Fall by L. Sprague de Camp and Poul Anderson's The High Crusade.