Asimov knows how to do it! I really enjoyed Foundation. Its old-school, soft science fiction with a thoughtful construction and a really readable (if dated) writing style. First off, by setting Foundation SOOOOooo FAR into the future, Asimov avoids the pitfall of having a well loved story catch up to its future time setting. I, Robot, which I'm re-reading now for example, takes place in the 1980s through 2058. Oops! No walking and talking robots by 1996, unfortunately.
Anyway, back to Foundation. I laid out some of the basics in a recent post, based on a short story I read by Orson Scott Card, which takes place in the Foundation Universe. I don't know what the other Foundation stories are like, but I can tell you that Asimov leaves plenty of room in this universe for story telling. This first book is really a series of related short stories, that by themselves are interesting, but when strung together chronologically as they are, tell the story of what Foundation is, and the mechanics of how it works.
How it works is based on something called psychohistory, which isn't explained in a while lot of detail, but who needs it, right?
The main characters are robust, thoughtful and full of life, while supporting characters are just that. If the stories lasted a bit longer, their personalities might have developed a bit more too, but because they aren't any longer, Asimov seems to have focused on the main character in each book, and let the others recede.
I'm looking forward to the next installment, and the good news is, I don't need to hurry. No cliffhangers here. Read this book.