FimFiction Link - Short ID: 5381/rainbow-factory
Published: Dec '11 — Aug '12
'Rainbow Factory' is an eight thousand and three hundred-word shortfic that requires no introduction. Because the story is so (in)famous, I'll make no attempt at avoiding spoilers, if by chance you haven't actually read the story yet, just do it now, it's extremely short anyways.
In this alternative interpretation of Cloudsdale, the Pegasi believe in a quasi-fascistic doctrine of serving "the flock," which simply means their society has no tolerance for anyone they deem worthless. This supposed purity is achieved using a flight-test, whose result determines whether you end up living your merry life as part of a somewhat fanatical collective or whether you end up as canned rainbows.
I'll be frank with you, I never really understood the logic behind this story. I've heard anecdotes that the author wrote it after a fever dream in one day and I'm inclined to believe this. RF is typically a story that I hate to dislike, but also can't bring myself to say that it's any good.
There are some minor issues in the story like characters randomly swearing like sailors, characters looking evil to the point of absurdity, or the author self-inserting for no reason beyond self-indulgence, but these aren't really what break the story for me.
The main problem I have is that rainbows simply don't seem like the sort of commodity that justify systematic genocide. I'm not even talking on a moral/ethical level, pragmatically thinking there is no logical reason to build a death-factory that's somehow kept a secret for nearly a thousand years. Think of what a logistic/diplomatic nightmare it would be! And for what?
Nothing in the story implies that there is anything more to rainbows than being pretty and no reason is ever given why there would be an increased demand. For some reason Cloudsdale a thousand years ago was already the cradle of eugenics and Celestia was apparently either okay or unaware of this when she entrusted them with the creation of Spectra, both options seeming implausible. There is just so much context missing!
Also seemingly - despite Dr. Atmosphere even lamenting the fact - no one ever came up with the idea that there are other better ways to make use of those they consider "unworthy" but skilled, like giving them jobs that don't require much flying. And I hear you saying, but these are supposed to be Nazi-horses, but remember that even Hitler's own doctor was a jew. The hipocrisy of the situation could've made for a much more compelling and interesting drama than simply "onions rainbow is ponies."
Overall: 4/10 The historical significance of RF is undeniable, but otherwise the story leaves much to be desired both in terms of world-building and character motivations.