Mainstreaming science fiction?

John Scalzi on science fiction outreach. Star Wars may basically be fantasy with a crunchy SF shell, but I’m pretty sure we have quite a few CJers who read the hard stuff.

I’m pretty much a fantasy reader, mainly because I enjoy books that are more character-oriented and I haven’t had much luck finding that in pure science fiction. As readers, what are your thoughts? Are there any contemporary authors who are writing SF for the masses?