2312, by Kim Stanley Robinson, is perhaps the loveliest science fiction novel ever written and an excellent beginning sf novel for people interested in literary fiction. Set three hundred years from now, humans have colonized the solar system from the asteroids inside the orbit of mercury to the moons of Neptune, and travel the solar system in hollowed out asteroids. In this milieu, Swan and Wahram, each over a hundred years old, meet after the death of Swan's grandmother Alex. When Swan's home city is destroyed by sabotage, she becomes involved in an investigation of artificial intelligences started by Alex and Wahram
Despite the thriller-esque overtones of the overarching plot, KSR spins the story out in a leisurely but compelling series of vignettes that involve social justice and ecological repair on an earth ravaged by global warming, meditations on the nature of gender, a love story between Swan and Wahram, two entirely mismatched paramours, and snippets of Rumi. Kim Stanley Robinson's stories have a way of acknowledging the ripe stink of human history, but the nature of his stories assume that the future is bright and the structure of his novels minimalizes the inherant conflicts and maximizes the value of human beings searching for meaning all while presenting you matter of factly with wonders: magical environments created through the application of technology.