Yes, exactly! I can't remember much of the first few novels I read by him in the late 90's, but my more recent memory of Hegira and now Beyond Heaven's River confirms this. His characters in both of these novels have been quite complex without all the usual character analysis and long internal dialogues within the characters' heads. The conversations are loaded, and you often have to pull out implications that are initially left dangling at the end of a thin thread. And then when it matters, it all comes together. What I found surreal about Hegira, which in hindsight is an example of a very hard SF novel, is that it was dripping with this religious context - a journey and mystery steeped in terms of sacrifice of the body, sin eaters, the spirit, etc. But there were no long descriptions about it. Hints here and there that compounded and become important to the thought-processes and actions of the characters as the story progressed. Good idea. I think if you really end up liking Greg Bear, then better to read his later, major works first and go to the early ones out of curiosity to compare and contrast the early-/mid-/late-period works.