I can't wait for this to come out :) Ian M Banks Culture books are awesome. I'm currently re-reading Excession for the 5th time (that and Consider Phlebas are my favourites, though for non culture The Algebraist was also excellent). Personally I'm hoping that the AI ship minds get a look in - they are for me the most fascinating characters in many ways, particularly in the Hedonistic society that's 'quietly' run by them. The symbiosis they have with their human 'so slow' co-existees is fascinating. Bring it on!
If you like Neal Asher, try reading Richard Morgan's Takeshi Kovaks novels, most notably the first one, Altered Carbon. Also make sure you take a look at Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash and The Diamond Age. Also, one of my personal faves, Hyperion, Fall of Hyperion, Endymion and Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons... after that, get Ileum and Olympos by Simmons too! Pukka.
hmm... i have read brass man by neal asher and i found it a bit of a let down, the plot didnt flow or wasnt engaging enough, i personally have to recommend China Mieville, probably the best author i've ever written (yes i know its not space opera, but i loved Iain M Banks for his writing style and his ability to truly engross you in hsi worlds). alternatively try: Marrow by Robert Reed, a fantastic novel setting up what will hopefully be a even better series (i've yet to read part 2. The Well Of Stars) Sheri S Tepper's Grass is a strange and somewhat creepy novel full of truly astonishing ideas. and i also agree, peter Hamilton is pretty damn good.
I have read all the Neal Asher ones - some are weaker but still enjoyable in my opinion. You should check out Alistair Reynolds. China Mieville is fantastic and reynolds is kind of like a medium between the two in a strange way