Congratulations on the purchase of your SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer. You will be eager to print the first of many fantastical creatures. We recommend you start with one of the preset recipes. And before you attempt even that, PLEASE —

For safety reasons, the Bio-Printer will not commence printing until the shield is engaged. You didn’t need to dip into the Trouble Shooting section to discover this, it’s all explained in the QUICK START guide, which covers —

The Bio-Printer will also not start without keying in your four-digit PIN, which will only be revealed once you sign the online warranty agreement and personal risk —

You Googled that, didn’t you? Or did you guess it? Regardless, please note that entering the correct PIN, even if not obtained through official SynaTech channels, is deemed acceptance of all terms. Also, it’s still not too late to READ THE —

Yes, wings are tricky. Which is why we recommend users start with something less exotic. Please see the QUICK START guide for suggestions. There will be plenty of —

Although the SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer can print anything you can possibly imagine, it cannot defy the laws of physics. The wings for even a small cat need to be surprisingly large, especially if you expect your hybrid —

Yes, you’ll also need a significant tweak to the feline nervous system. A cat is not used to having six limbs. Controlling the extra ones requires additional nerve and brain pathways. Perhaps, instead of a chimaera, you —

Funny, how often new users switch from flying kittens to much larger beasts! The size of your printed creation is, by necessity, something of a compromise. With the 3411 model, it is possible to bio-print a dinosaur egg; they’re really not that large. But then you’ll have to hatch that egg, and raise and feed an infant reptile. Which is why it’s best to start with a —

No, that’s not a good idea either. Accelerated growth profiles merely make your creations even more demanding. Feeding a ravenous, rapidly growing beast will tax even the most patient —

The Bio-Printer will halt all operations, with the ON button flashing amber, until the hazardous waste tray —

It is recommended that you employ the protective gauntlets provided to empty —

Ah ha, no. Note section 7c of the Health and Safety Guide, and section 13a of the User Agreement, the ones you agreed to by PIN activating your SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer. Acid burns occasioned by not following the instructions for emptying the hazardous waste tray are NOT the responsibility of SynaTech. If you’ve read the guide, you’ll know how to avoid such spills; where to safely dispose of the contents; and what to do if you do happen to upset the tray. Instead of being angry, be thankful: biomaterials can be highly unstable, and growing an extra tongue on your hand is even less pleasant than an acid burn. Look, we’re trying our best, really we are. Why don’t you bandage that up, and read the guides cover to cover, before —

Yes, well, that is the real problem with 3D printing a baby T. rex, accelerated or otherwise. By the end of its growth cycle, you’ve got yourselves a full-sized T. rex. You didn’t think this through, did you?

In addition to the SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer presets, there are official recipes for more complex chimeric creations on the SynaTech website. These are only recommended for advanced users, and have been carefully vetted to be non-lethal and mostly house-trained. Recipes from unsanctioned websites are NOT recommended, and might void —

We have been trying to tell you. The SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer is guaranteed for two years, but your creations are very much not. Especially —

That was ALWAYS going to happen; although we take no pleasure in telling you we told you so. A bio-printer is not a toy, it doesn’t exude Play-Doh. The precautions are there for your safety. If you don’t want your creations to bite the hand that prints them, don’t give them such sharp teeth.

When the console flashes red, you have only enough biomaterial for one more printing. We STRONGLY RECOMMEND that you select the preset for a Guardian 1.5a. An ugly little critter, but trust us, you’re going to need him.

You see, all those earlier ‘failed’ attempts? Whatever you intended them to be, what you’ve actually created are monsters. And whether you’ve flushed them down the toilet, thrown them in a box in the attic, or dropped them off in the nearest patch of woodland, they’re still alive. SynaTech biomaterials are designed to be robust. (Be thankful they’re also designed to be sterile.) By now, your little monsters have probably worked out who is responsible for their awkward, painful, miserable existences. The Guardian 1.5a is genetically programmed to protect you against mutant chimeric creations, even the really big ones, at least until you can order more biomaterials.

That was rather gruesome, wasn’t it? We do hope you’ve learnt your lesson, or rather, lessons. And now that your SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer is reloaded and ready to go, perhaps we could start over?

How would you like to print an adorable bunny rabbit with rainbow-coloured fur? Guaranteed harmless. That is, as long as you turn to page 5 of the QUICK START guide, and follow each and every single one of the detailed instructions very

The story behind the story

Liam Hogan reveals the inspiration behind Excerpts from the User Guide for the SynaTech-3411 3D Bio-Printer (the bits you actually bothered to read).

I’ve long been intrigued by the idea of 3D printed body parts. But which element to focus on for the inevitable science-fiction short story. The medical? The extreme cosmetic? The military? I floated it as a story prompt for Sci-Fi London’s 48-hour film challenge in 2014, possibly/probably inspired by Organovo, the California-based company that was the first to commercially bioprint human livers and kidneys, but I didn’t for the longest time do anything with it myself.

With 3D printers making their way into homes (at least the homes of tech-geeks) and as images of failed models filtered onto social media — complicated-designs that became Dalí-esque warped messes — the second seed was set: the leap from body parts to fantastical creatures, and what might happen when that (inevitably) went wrong. The third seed was a prompt to write in an unconventional, hybrid style, for which I also wanted to play with redaction, in this case, the sections of the manual we give up on (but really shouldn’t). At least the SynaTech-3411 manual explains why the instructions are what they are, which is more than I can say for the bike carrier that tried to shed two bikes on the motorway.