My stuff isn't the least bit dreary; it's probably closest in spirit to the Bujold books. You could start with my new backlist omnibus Dragon Space
, which is science fiction that involves dragons, or for harder SF (with humor) The Chaos Chronicles
, which is a series that's up to four books now, and I'm working on the fifth. (Free samples available.)
I too love Bujold's work; also Joe Haldeman, Joan Vinge, Vonda McIntyre, Vernor Vinge (excellent, though he can get a little dark), Diane Duane (especially her Wizardry series). Geez, who else? I actually have a recommended reading list
, which I created because my mind always went blank when people asked me who my favorite authors were.
That effectively ends at about ten years ago, though, because I can't keep up with the newer stuff, and frankly, a lot of it is too dreary for my tastes.
Oh--Terry Bisson's Bears Discover Fire
is a great story collection. Also, short fiction by Geoff Landis and Connie Willis. And Spider Robinson. Craig Shaw Gardner has written a lot of funny fantasy (A Malady of Magicks, etc.), but they're not in ebook yet (I'm leaning on him about that).
Have you read Cordwainer Smith? He's from the classic era, but his stories are wonderful and quirky (and available in a couple of omnibuses from Baen).
Oh--Julie Czerneda, for SF rooted in biology and I guess anthropology. And for light reading, my wife loves the SF romances of Sharon Lee and Steve Miller (haven't read them myself).