I can't disagree with you on the hard sci-fi trend of current sci-fi.
All of my favorites were written in the 90s or earlier. A lot of those classics hold up very well today.
I Am Legend was written in the 70s I think. I'm currently reading it. It should take me one more day at most to finish. I think its great and it's not hard sci-fi at all.
Then again maybe some people don't include post-apoc in sci-fi, but I do.
I do have a little bit of me that wants some hard sci-fi, but I will always enjoy character-driven pieces more.