I've only read may be a dozen on his stories - all but "First Contact" during the last month. Some elements seem to recur often in his stories; I collect what I can recall here. Plus some opinions.
My posts on individual stories in days to come should substantiate specific comments below.
- Going by originality, influence & the skill with which his stories are told, he obviously is one of the most important authors of science fiction. Going by number of posts I regularly see on his works relative other well known authors, he seems to be one of the semi-forgotten greats; he deserves to be read far more widely than he is.
- I've yet to see any really depressing story from him. While many of his stories do address grim subjects, they rarely make grim reading. Plus there are some outright hilarious reads.
- If your skin color is not white, he can occasionally be obnoxious. Or at least irritating.
- He's often very prejudiced in racial matters. It could be a sign of times he lived in, but I've difficulty relating to his distinctions between "civilized" people, "savages", "primitives", & some other adjectives with wrong connotations. And occasionally in ways irrelevant to subject at hand.
- Several of his otherwise very innovative stories have just too many coincidences - often convenient coincidences. This may be a curse of the innovator - too much energy spent getting the very original going. This has sometimes cut down the fun for me - particularly visible in stories that have been widely imitated.
- A tendency to repeat the same statement many times in the story using slightly different words.
- Romance: A lot of his stories have it as at least an important theme, though not a primary one.