|A Guide to Asimov's Series|
If you look at the publication dates of these books, you might notice that there was a 25 year hiatus between 1957 and 1982, during which he did not add to the series (though he did continue to be prolific). Regardless, by the time he wrote Prelude to Foundation in 1988, the situation had become sufficiently complicated for Asimov to feel the readers might welcome akind of guide to the series, since they were not written in the order in which (perhaps) they should be read.
The 15 books offer a kind of history of the distant future, which is, perhaps, not completely consistant, since he did not plan consistency to begin with. In my humble opinion, Asimov did a wonderful job and was sufficiently vague and cryptic when integrating his series together. Indeed, I feel that it's almost better this way because each book has its own unique story which fits into a place in the story of its series; then behind everything is an all-encompassing story whose tentacles extend even beyond the series. A bit mindblowing.
I recommend reading the series in its proper chronological order, which is outlined below:
The Robot Series
The Empire Series
The Foundation Series
The Second Foundation Series
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