Critiques Desired

This is my first novel attempt…I have the plot all blocked out and I think it’s gelling. I’d appreciate any critiques or criticisms. Here’s some of the first paragraphs:

“I call upon the scientific community, who gave us nuclear
weapons, to turn their great talents to the cause of mankind and world peace;
to give us the means of rendering these nuclear weapons impotent and
Ronald Reagan, 1985

Dr. Randy Kim stood at a podium facing into harsh stage lighting. The students seated in the crowded lecture hall could see him, but the glaring lights made it almost impossible for Kim to reciprocate. This didn’t make him particularly comfortable, since he preferred more personal interaction, one on one, perhaps over a cup of coffee. He was known by his students for being a better teacher during office hours than in the lecture hall, but he was well paid to suffer the inconvenience of lecturing. He was slowly improving, learning by doing. The students were focused directly on him, since unlike most instructors at the university he did not use any visual aids. Kim felt that focus was best directed toward what he had to say.
“…Remember, the most important component to persuasion in negotiations is realizing that everybody wants something. Humanizing the players by recognizing their needs in a negotiation situation will help in preventing conflict. If you can define the motivation for each person and ensure that they will have their desires met without conflict, you will then succeed in bringing the aggressor to release his tools for conflict.”
He cleared his throat.
“This removes the possibility of aggression. Aggression multiplies, but humanization and cooperation will breed progress toward peace. In the case of a disarmament roundtable discussion, you can remove the tools for conflict: weapons, by assuring these leaders that their own power will not be threatened by the lack of these tools. Their nation’s money, their power, will persist. Once everyone agrees upon a system to punish any nation that may become an aggressor, a system held as a last resort, the world can operate smoothly, peacefully, and without fear.”
Kim wrapped up his freshman lecture on political negotiations. A twenty year political negotiation veteran, Kim built a renowned career with gifted oratory and negotiation prowess on the world stage. Four years ago, Kim was instrumental in the creation and completion of the worldwide disarmament program spearheaded by the United Nations. As the lead political liaison, he personally handled negotiations with 80% of the nations of the earth - including all nuclear powers. He had, as one observant student put it, “charmed the world out of its weapons.”
After disarmament, there was talk of Kim running for political office - or even being appointed to a high administrative position within the U.N. A bout with cancer brought any such ambitions to a grinding halt. For two and a half years, Kim stayed out of the spotlight to focus on treatment and recovery. Now, cancer free, he plied his trade within the halls of the Bath Political College to devote his time imparting his skills and ideals to the next generation of politicians, orators, and negotiators.

– Thanks, Adam

Here’s some more, if it helps:

The Kroger Corporation’s Satellite Operations Center operated around the clock, with a team of 15 technicians monitoring vital systems. The ring of geostationary satellites supported from this control room encircled the globe, and had reliably operated for the past 3 years.
Tonight, the normally muted control room was bustling with feverish activity. The shift manager had been alerted to a communications breach, and when he saw the computer screens showing the commands being sent to the satellites, he immediately called in the company’s vice president of operations.
Geoff Grady was not happy to be woken in the middle of the night. He was sure that he’d have to have a talk with the shift managers who were trained to handle any contingency with the satellite systems. His presence on the site was purely managerial, meant to give the highest level managers peace of mind about the facility. The drive to the operations center took only a few minutes on the twisting road which his Aston DBS Volante navigated without issue. As he approached the gatehouse, he pulled out his ID.
“Quiet night, Jamison?” he asked as he handed over his company ID card.
Jamison swiped the card through the security access panel.
“‘Tis out here, sir, but I’d been alerted the techs had called you in. Anything serious the matter, sir?”
“No, I don’t think so, probably just a glitch. Say, aren’t you being transferred for leave soon?”
“Yes sir, that’s right. My six months are up in a week and a half.”
“Looking forward to seeing that new baby, eh?” Grady smiled.
“Yes, very much so - and my wife too, she’s anxious to have me home again.”
“I can imagine. Give them my best wishes.”
“Yes sir, thank you sir.”
The only noticeable sound was the rumble of the car’s V12 engine as Grady drove up the tree lined boulevard toward the low concrete building that sat in the open, surrounded by pavement and adjacent to the storage warehouse. The clear, quiet night made one feel that all should be well in the world.
Grady passed through the automated security doors in the operation center lobby and charged into the control room, emerging on the balcony. Normally an entrance at this time of night would have been noticed, but tonight the technicians’ eyes were glued to their terminals, and their hands flew over the keyboards. Grady’s eyes homed in on the shift manager. The shift manager had seen Grady shove the doors open, and was at that moment hurrying up the steel stepped catwalk.
Scurrying was the more appropriate term, he thought.
“What’s the matter with the satellite? Have we lost a signal synchronization in the ring?”
“No, sir. Not quite like that, sir.” The shift manager looked like he’d rather be anywhere else in the world at that point. “We’ve had a security breach.”
Grady raised an eyebrow at that. “What, a hacker of some kind?”
“That’s right.”
“Well, the control room networks are isolated with no vital data stored here. So I don’t see how the breach could have caused all that much ballyhoo, and warranted waking me up in the middle of the night.”
“Sir, the breach was not in our data network here. The breach occurred in the satellite communication links.”
Grady paused a moment.
“They accessed satellite control sequences then?”
The shift manager nodded.
That was bad. Access to the satellite control sequences could mean control of individual satellites in the ring. Any satellite could be moved out of the communications ring, crashed, shut down…or…
Grady had to ask, “What did they do with the control systems?”
“Well, the confirmation of the commands they used came back through the satellite ring to our base stations here, and none of them show movement confirmations. The command acknowledgments we received are consistent with an active detachment.”
“Well, what more can you tell me? Which satellite detached? Did it fire?”
“We don’t know! Once the responses move out of the screen buffer, they’re not retained in logs. This was implemented as a security feature before the engineers were laid off, you recall,”
“Why on earth did we approve something like that?”
“To keep the costs down on archival storage computers.”
“Oh. What now?”
“We have to wait and see if anything else happens. We’re implementing a tracking and logging utility.” He pointed. “That printer is going to print off all information received from the satellites, and we’ll have a full hard copy if anything else happens.”
“Very well,” Grady said. “Keep me posted.”
Grady spun on his heel and left the control room before the shift manager could respond. Hackers! He thought. In the satellites!

I liked the quote from Reagan and it got me excited to see some action regarding nuclear terrorism or some such thing. The characterization was fine for Kim but I got bored with the technicalities (and I don’t get bored that easily with techy stuff). I think I need some action up front before you get into his lecture. Give me a hook to keep me reading.

Thanks! I’ll do a little rearranging at the beginning to try to provide a little more interest before the boring lecture. I’ve actually finished writing out the story itself (only 40,000 words at the moment). As I make editing passes, I hope to add here and there.

I had so much fun yesterday finishing it off - went out on a nature trail with my laptop, opened up Scrivener and pounded out a couple thousand words next to a waterfall. I have to say, I’d write like that every day if I could.