Can anyone recommend recent sf which isn't milsf, genre romance, or cyberpunk, and which preferably isn't a murder mystery?
I give extra points for visually interesting, Italian renaissance, main characters who are good at doing things with their hands, sense of wonder, and clever world-building, but none of these are required.
I'm not sure how to distinguish genre romance from other sorts of love story, but I know it when I see it. I liked Bujold's Miles and Ekaterina stories a lot even though romance readers liked them too, but then Bujold looked into genre romance and wrote The Sharing Knife novels (and, I think, The Hallowed Hunt), and I'm not fond of them. I used to believe my problem was that genre romance is about falling in love with someone you shouldn't trust and getting away with it, but the Sharing Knife stories don't have that problem so my issue has to be something else.
Recently enjoyed: Midnight Never Come by Brennan (Elvish court parallel to Queen Elizabeth I), Swallowing Darkness by Hamilton (at least until the momentum was destroyed by an excessive sex scene), Od Magic by McKillip (mneme, thanks for recommending this-- I'm glad I finally got around to reading it), and I'm in the middle of McKinley's Sunshine and absolutely delighted by it. I also liked some recent Egan, so it's not that I'm necessarily looking for fantasy by women.