What I want is a fairly classic mode of science fiction that I call "planets and aliens." It's mostly about the people on one planet, although there may be more, and they're learning to deal with the aliens on that planet, although again there may be more. It isn't about wars in FTL spaceships, although there may be FTL spaceships (or there may not, there may just be FTL communications, or not even that). And I can come up with all sorts of classic examples and very few new recent things. (C.J. Cherryh's atevi books, for example, fit the bill, but she started writing them so long ago. There's a lot of LeGuin in this mode.)
So why the fewer recent things? Did people become stymied for things to say after they realized that using aliens as code for particular racial/ethnic groups here was a bad idea? Someone I was talking to suggested that it was because modern physics made long-distance space travel look less plausible than once it did, but there are so very many implausible things that are written about in great detail that this seems like not the explanation to me. Did everything just get pulled over into the Military SF realm and have the aliens mostly sucked out? What's the deal here?