A few weeks ago I believe I caught, from the corner of my eye, the spectral figure of Mark Samuels lurking around the Lovecraft section (where else?) of London's Forbidden Planet. Unfortunately I was in a rush to be somewhere else and (rather impolitely) didn't have the time to say hello. For those not familar with Mark, he is a writer of some outstanding weird fiction and 'mystical horror'. If you are a fan of Machen, Lovecraft and Ligotti chances are you will appreciate Mark Samuels' writing.
I can't claim to have known Mark very well, but became acquainted with him a few years ago via the London socials held by the Lovecraft Scholar's yahoo group, and once had the pleasure of being invited by Mark to a meeting of (what I believe was)the almost mythical Sodality of Shadows one Saturday evening in Highgate. As I recall, the last time I saw Mark was at a send-off do at London's Cittie of Yorke pub prior to his absconding to Mexico (from whence I understand he has recently returned).
In any case, this post is inspired by the fact that I've since discovered Mark has a new blog - while it's fair to say I'd probably disagree with some of the religious views expressed therein, it is definitely worth checking out for afficianados of the weird. Of particular note is Mark's April 7th post critiquing claims that it is the socio-political content of weird fiction which validates it as literature. Again, there's some points that Mark raises which I would probably take issue with, although I think he makes a valid argument that even the most materialist of weird fiction often ends up transcending its own materialism. Indeed, I believe I am taking a similar position vis-a-vis Lovecraft's 'non-supernatural cosmic art' in an article-in-progress (though on a personal note this doesn't constitute a revision of my own atheism; in fact I think it is eminently possible to maintain a fairly stalwart position of atheism without denigrating human religiousity or indeed the need to reject the 'naturalness' of religious ideas).