Access to a computer's supervisory program is something like access to a bank vault; the key is an access program to crack the supervisor program. The passkey to every bank in town is a program to take over one system and infiltrate every system it is linked to, without detection. P-1 (for ""Privileged One"") is such a program. It gulps down 114 systems during the first day of its existence, survives its creator's desperate attempts to scuttle it before someone notices his own fine hand at work, and several years later is on the prowl for a computer system and a storage technology to do justice to its ambitions. P-1 coolly locates its startled parent (a likably amoral type named Gregory Burgess) and sets him to work commandeering the one scientist who can offer it everlasting security through cryogenic storage. Meanwhile, there is a little-known Defense Department facility in West Virginia that is just the thing for the high-speed cogitation P-1 has in mind. . . . The technical ins and outs are at times almost impossible to follow, but who cares? The character of P-1 is outrageously fetching. Ryan (described here as ""a trouble-shooter in the computer industry"") is clearly a born storyteller--brash, over-fond of arch effects, given to having beads of perspiration ""make their appearance"" rather than ""appear"" on people's foreheads, but as nimble as a monkey in a jungle gym.