Damon Knight has written a number of short stories that a lesser author would probably have expanded into a novel. One thing I notice about modern sf is that it is much longer than sf from the forties and fifties, and contains a lot of chapters of people getting out of bed, eating breakfast, riding the subway, chatting with people at work, and so on. This is, I suppose, characterization, and I have to admit it goes down easy -- like bottled water. But with rare exceptions, it is the plot, not the characters, that stays in my mind. Yes, LeGuin and Wolfe draw interesting characters, but most of the other writers should cut to the chase.