This book was written decades after Asimov’s early robot stories and the five early empire novels. Since this new work would, within the story predate and anticipate the empire works, Asimov took the opportunity to seed them with little Easter eggs in regard to what he and we the readers already knew was coming. My reading experience the first time around was reading the works in their publishing order which was fun as you watched Asimov retcon books like The Robots of Dawn into his galactic continuity, tying-up loose ends on some things and tying bows on others. However, I’m finding that there’s different and equally pleasurable reading experience reading them in their fictional chronological storyline order and watching everything grow and and contribute to Asimov’s galactic vision.
That particular galactic vision was that there were no other intelligent alien life forms in our galaxy other than human life forms. So no cowboys conquering Indians or humans overcoming Martians. Just humans being humans in all of their glorious and devious ways. This is the basic foundation (Ha!) of Asimov’s galactic empire.