A Fire Upon the Deep is the kind of SF I like. It is not an excuse for The Human Heart's Struggle With Itself, or about somebody's conflict with his father, it's a big story with very cool ideas. An example is an alien species, which looks like a large dog mostly. And when you have just one, it's about as intelligent as a dog too. But when they run in their native state, small packs, they communicate by hyper-sound signals, and their minds build up into a super-mind, very intelligent and civilized. If the pack gets separated beyond how far sound can reach, the mind breaks down.
Another example is the idea that the closer you get to the galactic center, the more thought and radio-communication slow down, and vice versa. So nearer the centre, it is more primitive and very slow, but outwardly you have some super-civilizations which the main galaxy have no chance of even understanding.