Asher Elbein

Asher Elbein is a freelance journalist and fiction writer based in Austin.

By Asher Elbein:

A dead piñon pine in Boot Canyon in Big Bend National Park.

Feeling the Burn in Big Bend

An epic drought has scientists racing to predict the future of Big Bend's unique sky islands.

The 2011 drought that wiped out half the piñon pines in Big Bend’s sky island is a warning shot as the Southwest succumbs to climate change. Read More


Fragile Species

Can bats survive in a human-engineered world?

Can bats survive in a human-engineered world? From the east, a fungal infection is moving cave by cave, leaving obliterated bat populations in its wake. Read More

A baby alligator at the 2015 Gatorfest

Epitaph for an Alligator

With its display of mangled carcasses, is Gatorfest really the best way to honor the reptile?

Commodifying nature is nothing new. And perhaps my unease is the discomfort of a city person, who doesn’t have to live around big predators or make a living from them. But it was impossible to shake the feeling that Gatorfest was designed to draw in city folk and present them with alligators as mascots, not as animals in their own right. Read More

A female rose-bellied lizard with a long tail sits on a tree stump.

Go Wild in Suburbia with ‘Texas Lizards: A Field Guide’

Wildlife habitats: surprisingly close to home.

Texas Lizards: A Field Guide, Troy and Toby Hibbitts’ superlative new book, is an excellent manual for that wilderness. Covering 51 species of lizard — almost one-half of the lizard species in the entire continental United States — it functions as a comprehensive survey of Texas’ lizard zoology. Read More

Robert Bakker — sketch artist

Unearthing a Lost World

Nearly all of the fossils in this Seymour quarry are Dimetrodon or similar “sail-backed” predators. It’s a concentration of flesh eaters unprecedented in the modern world, and a pattern that’s repeated in the vast majority of dig sites in Baylor County. Paleontologists Robert Bakker and David Temple want to find out why. Read More

Back of the Book, Blogs

The Oxford American Turns to Texas Music

The magazine’s companion anthology album—always an eclectically curated highlight of the Oxford American's annual music issues, of which the current iteration is the first devoted solely to Texas—features a stylistic gamut encompassing Los Super 7 and Spoon, Kinky Friedman and Sarah Jarosz, Buddy Holly and Ornette Coleman, Johnny Winter and Barbara Lynn. Read More


Bill King Seeks the Political Center in Houston

Bill King's new book, Unapologetically Moderate: My Search for a Rational Center in American Politics, hammers home a few central themes: Our nation is fundamentally centrist; our politics don’t reflect that truth; and, as a result, policy suffers and voters become annoyed. Read More