I also discovered today that I neglected to report the last published ratings for Ancient Aliens, from January 13, when a rerun of the show aired on the History Channel after Curse of Oak Island, unknown to me until I came across a mention of the Nielsen ratings today. That episode attracted 1.537 million viewers, only half of the 3 million who tuned in to Curse. Of them, 400,000 were in the 18-49 demographic. (Yes, 1.1 million of its viewers were 50+.) This doesn’t really tell us much about Ancient Aliens since it was a rerun, but since H2 doesn’t release ratings information, it’s the only hard number we have for the current season.
On a happier note, my new book Foundations of Atlantis received its first review yesterday, from speculative fiction writer Don D’Ammassa, who said that it was “actually more interesting than I expected it to be.” Good to know expectations are so low! He found some of the pieces to be “rather tedious” to read, but that is less my fault than that of the ancient authors; the pieces were chosen for their importance, not their entertainment value. It is, after all, primarily a reference book. Even I, with my enormous tolerance for boredom, have trouble caring about the endless mystical mumbo-jumbo of the Kore Kosmou. Nevertheless, “it is nice to have them gathered all together in one place,” D’Ammassa said.
To stick with the Atlantis theme, I should let you know that after my piece last week on the media coverage of Mark Adams’s new book Meet Me in Atlantis, the author generously had his publisher provide me with a review copy of the book. Dutton (a division of Penguin Random House—the company that distributes my Cult of Alien Gods internationally on behalf of Prometheus Books) overnighted me a copy, which I have started to read. I’ll be sharing my thoughts after I’ve finished the book.
I do have to thank Adams for his volume having reminded me of something that I had read a long time ago in Stephen Williams’s Fantastic Archaeology, that Ignatius Donnelly had sent a copy of his Atlantis: The Antediluvian World (1882) to Charles Darwin, who replied unhelpfully that he was skeptical of Donnelly’s thesis. I had wondered at the time why no one quoted the letter in full, and its excerpt in Adams’s book revived my curiosity, so I tried to find out. It turns out that Darwin’s handwriting is so awful that no one can quote the whole letter because so many words are illegible! Here’s a copy of the letter as published by the Minnesota Historical Society, along with my best guess at a transcription, as amended by the thoughtful comments in the comments section below.
March 2d, 1882
I am much obliged to you for your kindness in having sent me a copy of your “Atlantis.”
I shall read the book with interest, though I must confess in a very sceptical spirit. —
10 Downing St., Whitehall, March 11, 1882.
Dear Sir,—I thank you very much for your Atlantis, a copy of which you have been so kind as to present to me. Though I may not be able to accept all your propositions, but I am much disposed to believe in an Atlantis, and I think I can supply you with another case in which traditions have come down into the historic age from periods of time lying far away in the background of preceding ages.
Homer unquestionably (I do not fear to say) believed in a sea-exit from the northern Adriatic, and imagined the north of Europe to be an expanse of water. And this, geology, I believe, assures us that it was, but not within what we have heretofore received as the limit of the memory of man.
Three or four years ago the Duke of Argyle was at Venice, and saw on a fish-stall a fish which he was familiar with on the west coast of Scotland, but which is unknown in the Mediterranean generally. And on further examination he found that that corner of the Adriatic corresponded as to local fish with the Atlantic. This is a curious and perhaps a significant fact.
I am, dear sir, your very faithful and obedient
W. E. Gladstone.
Ignatius Donnelly, Esq., U. S. A.
The Prime Minister’s letter was used in Donnelly’s marketing materials and reprinted in Harper’s Weekly and Harper’s Bazaar, a celebrity endorsement for the ages. Did I mention that his book had been published by Harper Brothers, the owners of those magazines? No? Well, it was totally a coincidence, I’m sure.