1. The preface by Karl Sayon (a parody of Carl Sagan, yes?) starts with talk of a Tertiary Focus.
It's unknown what the first and second are.
I didn't know anything about the Latin etymology of "focus" so I looked it up.
Focus - "point of convergence" from Latin focus "hearth, fireplace" (also, figuratively, "home, family")
So, that's probably a rabbit trail; I don't know yet.
2. The Doomsday Equation: "The humanly inhabited universe, with its four Suns and seventeen planets, is an unstable closed system of human orientation and precarious balance, a kinetic three-dimensional ellipse in form, with its third focus always approaching extinction. As with any similar unstable premise-system, the entire construct must follow its third focus into extinction."
Lafferty's entire universe is anthropocentric, "of human orientation" and (therefore?) of precarious balance.
Can any Lafferty fans name the seventeen planets? Have they all been named? I can think of Astrobe, Camiroi, Kentauron Mikron, and Gaea-Earth. I riffled through Sindbad and found the name of Dahae. Then there's Klepsis, of course.
The mention of the "ellipse" gives further context to the "tertiary focus" line. I'm a math dope, so maybe someone can give more details, but an ellipse has two foci, right? So a third focus would unbalance the thing? Or does this have to do with the three-dimensionality of the ellipse? And it's a kinetic ellipse, chasing its third focus. Again, I don't know if this is wonkiness or if there is some math speculation going on here that I don't catch.
3. I'm still fuzzy on what the Third Focus is, but this Preface really is just a tease and set-up, so that's to be expected. "The third focus of the humanly inhabited universe has been determined to be both a point and a person on the Planet Klepsis." Again with the person-centeredness. One-third of the foci maintaining the ellipse of the known universe is a person.
4. More details are given about this person who is the third focus.
Location - surface of Klepsis
Code Name - Horeshoe Nail
Age - more than two hundred years
Condition - "He cannot be allowed to awake, and he cannot be allowed to die."
5. The Table of Contents. I could speculate on the titles, but that wouldn't do much good. What interests me about the ToC and what I want to bring up is that Lafferty has structured the story by Cantos instead of Chapters. Why is this? When I think of Cantos, I immediately think of Dante and his Comedy, but I'm not sure that there are any strong Dante references going on. There are many other poems that use Cantos, but I think that what is important is that it is a literary structuring device of Italian origin and that Canto is related to song. Annals of Klepsis is the Italian song epic about the Irish pirate planet! It is the Aloysius and the Lafferty joyously dancing around one another. And speaking of Aloysius, the back cover says that he'll be making an appearance!
I'm reading the book slowly. The plan right now is to read a chapter a week, then re-read the chapter and "live-tweet" it during slow moments during the week. This is pretty much what I did with Sindbad and that worked out well since it is still probably my favorite Laff novel. https://twitter.com/KlepsisAnnals