I love his SciFi, personally. “Against A Dark Background” has that same kind of WHAM! ending, I think, at least. Most of the rest of his SciFi is in the “Culture Universe” and it’s very left leaning, militantly utopian Space Opera. Quite good.
For his more “mainstream” fiction, read the Business, or the Bridge. Most of his fiction fiction still uses ideas or techniques taken from SciFi, just it’s not so nearly overt.
Great author. The Wasp Factory turned my mind inside out.