Libraries have their uses.
It's an interesting book for sure.
I don't actually play role-playing games at all anymore. But it's an entire genre of work (made up geographies, bestiaries, etc.) that isn't really served outside of games very much.
Characters add quite a bit to world building though.
"a lot of SF forces some sort of human-interest piece into what the author really wants to do"
I think many authors want the world to serve the perspectives they want to communicate and examine, so if it doesn't work, they just aren't accomplishing that.
He really had a wide-ranging vision that is evocative of the sort of thinking that the Long Now Foundation is interested in today. Pity he was such an abysmally poor writer.
Pretend you're reading a history book. There's a lot of detail, many stories, which don't have to follow the novelist's imperative to make sense and have narrative resolution.
It's still quite possible you won't enjoy yourself, there are no guarantees in life. But this approach gives you your best chance.
"ONE night when I had tasted bitterness I went out on to the hill. Dark heather checked my feet. Below
marched the suburban lamps. Windows, their curtains drawn, were shut eyes, inwardly watching the lives of
dreams. Beyond the sea's level darkness a lighthouse pulsed. Overhead, obscurity. I distinguished our own
house, our islet in the tumultuous and bitter currents of the world. There, for a decade and a half, we two, so
different in quality, had grown in and in to one another, for mutual support and nourishment, in intricate
symbiosis. There daily we planned our several undertakings, and recounted the day's oddities and vexations.
There letters piled up to be answered, socks to be darned. There the children were born, those sudden new
lives. There, under that roof, our own two lives, recalcitrant sometimes to one another, were all the while
thankfully one, one larger, more conscious life than either alone."
I must say, I can see what the other person was saying about the style. I could read hundreds of pages of Asimov, for example the Foundation series, but not the above.
You can't really argue about writing style. For comparison I just Googled the opening paragraph of Asimov's Foundation and was immediately engaged and wanted to keep reading.
Of course tastes will differ.
I also like grand sweep stories such as Olaf Stapledon wrote. I find a collision there, since many of the things I like to talk about -- interstellar empires or even interplanetary empires -- now appear likely to be post-human-era events. That's sad, since the present-day audience and I are not post-human. It's very hard to write stories that realistically talk about such futures.