I like Egan, Bear a little less but still worth the effort.
I like hard sf (baxter got a mention) but what I think I really like is the ideas - regardless of how 'possible' they are. I loved Niven's idea of Teela Brown having a gene for luck from being 8th generation of two birth lottery parents. It's ridiculous, but still brilliant. And the idea of old age being a failed transition to 'Protector' because of the paucity of thalium(?) in our soil. And that's where Egan shines. Every writer has ideas, but it's when the ideas come as intriguing surprises that I get a buzz. I liked Brin's Uplift saga - though the big ideas wrestled with the character soap operas for centre stage.
I don't read anywhere near as much SF as I once did - pretty much limit myself to years best collections of short fiction (if I can get to it).
Who's read an SF novel they'd recommend that has been published in the last five years?