I agree! Like the Vinge books mentioned by the GP, the interactions between aliens and humans are well written, and nicely bring out the quirks of the different species.
Also check out Alistair Reynolds. House of Suns is probably my favorite, which is a pity because it’s a standalone not a series. The whole Revelation Space series is good too.
Lately it’s been the new ‘Expanse’ book, and ‘The Culture’ series.
Except he's now up to three books.
It's hard scifi of a neutron star passing through the solar system and Earth scrambling to research it. At the same time life is developing on the neutron star.
I haven't read the book but the Star Trek episode was awesome.
I just want more information about all the things like Ultras, Rust belt, Glitter band, Belle epoque and so forth.
In my opinion it's not as poetic as Dune but it's not action filled like The Expanse. The fascinating parts that make me keep reading are all the cultural and technical details he brings out between the story line.