Greetings Brother Laz,I just finished the Hyperion series by Dan Simmons.It ranks top on my alltime sci-fi list(I prefer speculative fiction as a more accurate designation for this one).It is mind blowing in scope.An extremely great read(my humble opinion).It is light on the "hard science",heavy with religion, adventure, intrigue,philosopy.Has romance for the ladies.I am not ashamed to admit the romance stuff choked me up in places,especially in the final installment ,last chapter.DON"T you dare peek,you'll regret it.
What i found to be most impressive was that this series actually had an ending and quite a satisfying one.I've been so dissappointed by many series that began so well,captivating me so I hungered for the next installment just to drop me like a ton a bricks at the final page wanting my money back.
Examples would be the Foundation series by Azimov,the river world series by Philip Jose Farmer and others i can name right now since i'm getting hot under the collar about being departed of hard earned money.
Don't get me wrong though, the books are still a good diversion, but after Hyperion my standards are far to high and those lesser series are just plain juvenile (although i think thats appropriate for everone in this site,myself included LOL).
In closing, Laz,
if you enjoy SF go for Hyperion,ChowMein for now and Ramen in the name of Spaggetti,Flying and The Holy Monster.