Perdido Street Station
First of all, the wiki entry for PSS is particularly bad. But then, by the nature of wiki, that may not be true by the time you see it. Who can say?
Second, I think about this book daily. Maybe hourly. The beauty of the writing is only matched by the cruelty of the story. This wasn't a lecture, this isn't Ayn Rand or even South Park preaching at me. There are lessons about the dangers of a fascist government, of exploration without prudence, of what desire can do to individuals or whole worlds. But those morals are embedded in the story as cleanly as the ones you come across in your own life (thank all that's holy that this book is not my life).
I've been reading since I was three. I have run across books that were difficult to follow because the vocabulary employed was almost over my head, but usually those writers are covering up for a lack of writing ability. This is one of the very, very few novels I've ever come across where reading one passage several times just to make sure I have the sense of it was purely a pleasure.
I don't even know if this is science fiction that feels like fantasy or fantasy that employs science fiction or both or reality somewhere else. It's a feast. It's so casually nasty that I can't believe I love it so much.
final thought: Just read the fucking thing.