One of Harold Bloom's criterion for great literature (he's talking about Dante, Shakespeare and Virgil) is "strangeness." He goes on to explain that the greatest literature in Western Civilization shares two seemingly conflicting characteristics--that the work is unique--he calls it "strange." It's like nothing else that's ever been written before. Yet on the other hand, the work is also familiar. Somehow the work resonantes with the reader--at once both familiar and yet strange. I think Susan Matthews falls into this cateogry very neatly. In terms of science fiction. I don't agree that this series has run its course. Her character, Andrej Kosciuscko-however-you-spell-his- name, is fascinating. He emboies the worst and best qualities of humanity. Sheri Tepper performs the same kind of feat in Grass. Though she has written many other novels, some good, some simple rehashes of her other novels, Grass has that familiar other world feel, but it is also one of the strangest worlds I've ever read. It's better than Ringworld, Gaiea, or any other world that sci-fi writers have come up with. If you haven't read this very talented writer's effort, do read them. Colony Fleet and Avalanche Soldiers are both [bad], especially Avalanche. Colony Fleet is readable but unremarkable, but Avalanche Soldier is really bad.
Susan Matthew's trilogy that feature the torturer, Andrej Koscuiscko(?????) is without a doubt the best series I've read since John Varley's Titan, Wizard and Demon. She's right up there with Joan Slonszewski, Sherri Tepper, Pamela Sargent and David Gerrold.