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The Man Who Collected Machen and Other Weird Tales - Mark Samuels Another fine collection from who is one of the leading lights of modern weird fiction.

Mark's style really works for me. His prose is clear and concise yet evocative. He writes very consciously of the genre and has a healthy respect for the greats authors that helped shape it. Having some experience of the classic authors yourself, while not essential, will help get the most out of some of these stories here.

Some of the stories centre around writers, such as "Losenef Express" that features a weird fiction writer who is trying to lose himself in eastern Europe whilst ridden with self loathing over his loss of artistic integrity. Then there's "The Age of Decayed Futurity" in which an author looking for ideas for her fourth novel, inspired by the ravings of washed up Hollywood actor, comes to the attention of a global conspiracy to turn us all into mindless zombies.

There are stories about collectors of books such as the title story and "Glickman the Bibliophile" in which a book collecting obsessive is caught and brainwashed by an organisation trying to suck all the information out of the world.

Underlying most the stories seems to be a seething resentment of modern society, it's soulless culture and progress for it's own sake. In this sense he resembles Aickman who held the same view (but made the point more obliquely). Samuuels also seems to feature different malevolent, nihilistic forces at work seeking to undermine humanity and turn us back into the primordial slime, showing similarities with Ligotti. Although perhaps the most Littogian story in this collection (and also my favourite) was "THYXXOLQU" in which the language of the dead begins to invade our society, gradually infecting everyone.

This collection was just such a pleasure to breeze through and I can happily recommend it to any fans of weird horror.