Te Kōrero Ahi Ka: The Iron Wahine
By Matt Cowens
I love the idea of giant bugs. The Mist by Stephen King is among my favourite stories, and I fondly remember a post-apocalyptic science fiction roleplaying game where the rag-tag gang I was part of was lead by a twelve-foot-tall cybernetic praying mantis. Te Papa’s recent Bug exhibit was a total delight. Closely behind the giant bug for entertainment value is the giant robot, the sword-wielding, flying, humanoid defender of humanity. From classic anime to recent blockbusters the giant robot has also been a source of joy for me.
When SpecFicNZ put out the call for New Zealand science fiction, fantasy and horror stories for an anthology I knew immediately that I wanted The Iron Wahine to be part of the collection.
The giant bugs of the story are peripheral, existing only in my head. We meet a boatload of refugees who have fled the ravages of the unmentioned giant bugs. They are thrown headlong into the threat of a swarm of kraken. Between them and a watery grave lies the eponymous Iron Wahine – one of a network of Iron Wāhine.
This story was originally written, edited and submitted to Flash Frontier in a single evening. The idea of wahine toa had gripped me in a story about five Ngati Waewae women warriors who did the wero at the opening of Tuhuru. The idea of the karanga and the wahine toa coalesced into a story of giant female robots standing guard on Aotearoa’s misty shores.
The version of the story in Te Kōrero Ahi Kā is slightly extended, though still short. I hope that The Iron Wahine packs a punch.