Foundation is less a science fiction story in the traditional sense, and more an epic world building exercise. Like Tolkiens' Silmarillion, it deals not just with one linear set of events, but offers a glimpse into many stories, characters and times in order to create a sense of tangible history. On each successive 'jump' through time the reader appreciates each phase with the context of past events, and the issues, characters and themes they present. To hear a character appreciated in the first person then spoken about later as a revolutionary figure, or great leader, brings in a bizarre blend of intimacy and yet also the feeling of being part of something bigger than the stories dipping into it. It is Asimov's ability to blend direct, emotive and dramatic dialogues with an overarching set of themes and events that gives a challenging and often ominous sense of changing eras and the unavoidability of global (and in this case universal) events. As each successive story becomes embedded in the history of the books, it becomes both a reminder to the reader of past events as experienced by them, and yet also in hindsight it is viewed in the wider context as a key or pivotal part of the development of the culture of the populations. It is a massive challenge to keep asking the reader to re-aquaint themselves with a time and location, and to quickly introduce a whole new cast of characters that are genuinely different and believable, and this is something any writer of short stories has to deal with (and Asimov is no stranger to short stories). Foundation isn't pandering to technological idealism, or creating an ethereal alternate future as some kind of escapism. It is more an exploration of the inherant issues and massive changes technology brings, and uses a rich, solid and complex fictional framework to bring these to light in a way that doesn't become just dull and emotionless exposition.