For character-driven SF, I've got to go with Mike Resnick. Ivory
would be at the top of this list, but the Penelope Bailey trilogy (Soothsayer/Oracle/Prophet
) and The Dark Lady
are good, too. Plenty of galaxy-spanning action, adventure & mystery, and nary a word of technobabble in the bunch.
And I think pretty much everything is available at Fictionwise (where you can read reviews, and the first chapter or so for free):
The Dark Lady