I've recently (i.e. in the last year) been catching up on all the British space opera that I long overlooked - Banks, Hamilton, Reynolds, etc. And I've noticed an awfully large amount of "idea recycling" present in a lot of these books. For example:
* The "Adamists" and "Edenists" of Hamilton's Night's Dawn series are very similar to the "Mechanists" and "Shapers" of Bruce Sterling's Schismatrix.
* The "Prime" from Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga are very similar to the "Moties" from The Mote in God's Eye by Niven & Pournelle.
* The "Inhibitors" of Reynolds' Revelation Space series are very similar to the "mechs" of Gregory Benford's Galactic Center series (the "alpha" and "beta" simulations and the realm of the "Shrouders" are also highly reminiscent of elements from the Galactic Center series).
* Banks' Culture series contains a lot of elements from Star Wars ("drones" = "droids") and Star Trek (most of the aliens, most of the technologies).
This is not to say these books are copycat trash. Original stories and characters count for a lot (which is why I like Hamilton and dislike Reynolds). And there are a few apparently original ideas here (Banks' Culture Minds, Reynolds' Demarchists). But it seems to me that, in terms of ideas, recent British space opera is generally less about new sci-fi ideas than about using established tropes as a backdrop for original stories.
(Charles Stross, of course, is a big exception to this rule. And I haven't tried Ken MacLeod yet.)
Has anyone else noticed this?