Iain M. Banks writes some wonderful space opera novels, particularly the Culture series. The stories are big, exciting, complex, and humorous. Maybe the best space opera I've ever read. I recommend starting with Use Of Weapons or The Player of Games.
One of the cool things about them is that many of the most interesting characters are AIs. Like drones, minds, and ships. Yes, spaceships are sentient beings in those stories. And they often have a sly sense of humor in many things, including naming themselves.
You can view the Culture books as what a humanoid civilazation might be if humans really got their shit together and made a big and wonderful civilization instead of being stuck in infighting. But the books also, fortunately, contains many other sentient aliens of great variety.