Surendra Verma

writer, editor, journalist and author (and a natural-born sceptic)
Melbourne, Australia

Twitter: @scepticscribe

Based in Melbourne, Australia since 1970; and before that in Perth, Australia; and before Australia many years in Dehradun, a picturesque town (at least, when I lived there) in the foothills of Himalayas.

  Sixty Continuous Years of Science Writing

13 May 1956 - 13 May 2016

My first piece as a freelance science writer - a short article on optical illusion - was published in Sunday 13 May 1956 edition of a natioinal weekly when I had just turned 14.

Since then I have been writing regularly on matters related to science, technology, environment and health right through my high school and college days to this day. So far, I have published 1000+ non-technical general-interest articles in major national and international newspapers and magazines; and 20+ popular-science books (internationally in many English editions and in 13 languages other than English). Not even bothering to count numerous brochures and booklets I wrote for corporate clients.

For some 45 years of this period I was in full-time demanding jobs (mostly in journalism and publishing, some of these jobs also involved writing) but that didn't stop me moonlighting as a freelance science writer. Science writing has never been my profession, only a hobby. A highly satisfying one, I must say.

Although during my long solo journey as a freelance science writer I have used a vast array of tools - pens (fountain and ball points), manual typewriters (dekstops and protables), electric typewriters (ordinary ones to fnacy daisy wheel and golf ball ones), desktop computers (with dot matrix, ink jet and laser printers; and with BSB and emails), heavy laptops and tiny notebooks, iPads and iPhones - the basic tools have always been the same throughout this period: a curious mind and resilience.

The list of my ‘pre-retirement’ writing and publishing activities would fill up a book or two. So, this website lists only …

  My ‘post-retirement’ activities


November 2004: $15,000 literature grant by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts for writing creative nonfiction

June 2007: Honorary Life Member of the Media, Entertainment & Arts Alliance, the association representing Australian journalists – for contribution to journalism in Australia

November 2007: $25,000 literature grant by the Literature Board of the Australia Council for the Arts for writing creative nonfiction




The Tunguska Fireball: Solving One of the Great Mysteries of the 20th Century

Icon Books, UK, 2005, hb

Icon Books, UK/Totem Books, USA, 2006, pb (published as The Mystery of the Tunguska Fireball)



Polish (Amber, 2005, pb)

Hungarian (Partvonal, 2005, hb)

Chinese (Naihai Publishing, 2005, pb)

Italian (Mondadori, 2006, pb)


From reviews

‘Verma waltzes the reader through the process of scientific debate.’

The Guardian, UK

‘Readers who like scientific detective stories will find this book very appealing.’

Astronomy Now, UK




Why Aren’t They Here?: The Question of Life on Other Worlds

Icon Books, UK, 2007, hb
Icon Books, UK/Totem Books, USA, 2008, pb

From reviews
‘A masterpiece of science writing and journalism – in-your-face, direct and beautifully written ...
a gem of wisdom, scholarship and fun. Verma has the grace of great learning worn lightly.’  
BBC Focus, UK

‘A calm, intelligent and witty survey of the history of mankind’s search for extraterrestrial life.’
Daily Mail, UK





 The Cause of Mosquitoes Sorrow: Beginnings, Blunders and Breakthroughs in Science

Icon Books, UK, 2007, pb

Dutch (Veen Magazines, 2008, pb)
Japanese (
Chikumashobo, pb 2008)
Korean (Yeuleumsa Publishing, 2008, pb)

From reviews
‘Verma assembles a punchy list ... some entries are golden nuggets.’
New Scientist, UK

‘Each incident occupies a page of erudite and often witty information.’  
The Sunday Age, Au




Beginnings, Blunders and Breakthroughs in Science

US edition of The Cause of Mosquitoes’ Sorrow: Beginnings, Blunders and Breakthroughs in Science

MJF Books, New York, 2008, hb


Updated and revised editions

In English

Orient Paperbacks, India, 2015, pb


In Portuguese
Autêntica Editora/Gutenberg, Brazil, 2016, pb










 The Little Book of Scientific Principles, Theories & Things

Australian edition
New Holland Publishers, Australia, 2005, pb; 2014, hb

UK edition
New Holland Publishers, UK, 2006, pb

US editions
Sterling Publishing, USA, 2006, pb
Metro Books, USA, 2008, hb

Indian edition
Orient Paperbacks, 2011, pb

Korean (Jisik-Naite Publishing, 2007, pb)
Farsi/Persian (Maziar Publications, 2008, pb)
Greek (Ellinika Grammata, 2009, pb)
French (Dunod, 2009, pb)
Chinese (Hunan Science & Technology Press, 2010, pb)
Portuguese (
Autêntica Editora/Gutenberg, Brazil, 2011, pb)

From reviews
‘Verma writes with wit and clear enjoyment, demystifying the most difficult concepts.’
The Good Book Guide, UK

Verma’s remarkable little book combines hard practical worth with history and fun.’
Cosmos, Australia


The Little Book of Maths Theorems, Theories & Things

New Holland Publishers, Australia, 2008, pb
Published in the US in 2009, pb

Indian edition
Orient Paperbacks, 2010, pb

Portuguese (
Autêntica Editora/Gutenberg, Brazil, 2013, pb)

From reviews
‘This fun book is a great way to discover the wonder of maths.’ 
Cosmos, Australia

Despite complexities, the different mathematical theories have been handled with deftness ...
evoke the feeling of exciting narratives, the arguments sweep in epic style.’
Alive Magazine, India



The Little Book of Unscientific Propositions, Theories & Things

New Holland Publishers (Australia and the UK), 2011, pb
Published in the US 2012, pb

Indian edition
Orient Paperbacks, 2012, pb

Chinese (Hunan Science & Technology Press, 2012, pb)
Portuguese (
Autêntica Editora/Gutenberg, Brazil, pb, 2014)

From reviews
‘Verma, a science journalist, has a wicked sense of humour that makes this book a delight to read.’
The Daily Telegraph, Australia

‘This is a highly enjoyable and informative little book, exploring some of the more likely terrain between science and fruit loopery.’

Who Killed T. Rex?: Uncover the Mystery of the Vanished Dinosaurs
A popular science whodunit for children

New Holland Publishers, Australia, 2010, pb

From reviews
‘Straightforward and entertaining (who doesn’t love a prehistoric mystery?) ...
with detailed illustrations and lively prose, it’s a neat package for curious sleuths.’
The Sunday Age, Australia

‘This is an excellent book, a must for all school libraries’
Reading Times, Children’s Book Council of Australia



The Little Book of the Mind: How We Think and Why We Think

New Holland Publishers, Australia and the UK, 2012, pb

Italian (De Agostini, 2013, hb)
Chinese (Hunan Science & Technology Press, 2013, pb)

From reviews
‘Surendra Verma has built a career out of writing short, sharp books that tinker with big issues of science and existence.
This one tackles how brain works and why. It pooh-poohs myths such as the innate differences between male and female brains and tries to tell us why we feel dreadful when a lover dumps us ... Verdict: science lite, but heaps of fun.’
The Herald Sun, Australia

‘Fascinating and entertaining ... A great read for one and all.’

Learn & Unlearn: The novel way to rethink the things that matter in your life

New Holland Publishers, Australia and the UK, 2015, hb

From reviews
‘A thoughtful and practical book.’
Daily Mercury, Australia

‘While not a life or attitude guide, it urges readers in a realistic, evidence-backed and subtly witty way to open up to new realties and possibilities by unlearning old habits and unhealthy behaviours, minus the condescending ‘how-to’ discourse that litters far too many bookshop shelves.’
The Retiree, Australia

Science in 100 Words

Orient Paperbacks, India, 2015, pb


And also …


Books published in the 1980s and 1990s



 … and many more

 Buy online

Book Depository

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