For three weeks, the new partners labored their way through the books. After each four-hour leg, a book was handed off like a runner’s baton to the next reader in the rotation. At the end of each day, they would gather for an evening meal, discuss what they’d learned, and answer each other’s questions as best they could.
One day, Agnes suggested that, rather than each person handing off the book for the next person to read the exact same thing, they could get together and read aloud, switching out readers whenever someone grew tired. This improved their progress considerably, and required less effort from each partner.
But soon, Lem found himself growing bored and distracted while the others read. So, after a few weeks of reading aloud, Lem suggested that everyone learning the same information was not the best use of their time.
A heated discussion ensued over dinner. They went back and forth for hours. Eryn championed the idea that partners should acquire a holistic understanding of the System. Lem argued for specialization based on skills and interests. The others slowly came over to Lem’s point of view, each admitting in turn that they found one or more subjects tedious or confounding. As the tide slowly turned in Lem’s favor, Zhan became increasingly enthusiastic about his new plan. She finally won over Eryn by pointing out that, by following this new scheme, they should be ready to go out and teach by the following spring. Eryn conceded then, but not enthusiastically.
The rest of the evening was spent deciding who would focus on which of the System’s faculties and coming up with a new reading schedule. Harold took on anything to do with structures and civil engineering. Agnes, the growing and cultivating of food.
Processes and Applications was difficult to work out. This area dealt with making decisions and policies. Edner was certainly the most qualified owing to his many years working at DISC, but giving up this vital faculty gave Lem pause. Eventually he relented and left Processes and Applications to Edner. Lem decided to focus his attentions on Histories. This role involved both the interpretation of the past and the chronicling of the present and brought with it a greater and more subtle power.
Since she began reading the book, Eryn had developed a nascent interest in the medical and medicinal fields so she took those on. She also took on the technical subjects. Based on skills and experience, that should have gone to Lem, but he showed no interest, only joking that there wasn’t much tech around anymore.
Zhan surprised everyone by not taking on any subject from the book. She pointed out that, as the others learned their subjects and took their notes in their journals, they would need someone to catalog and organize all that information so it could be referenced later. Zhan became the System’s librarian.