This time travel masterpiece keeps the sci-fi in the background, avoiding the usual paradoxes. Instead it creates a perfectly horrible historical dystopia. Religion is fundamental to life in England in the 1300s, so naturally it pervades the story. It also appears in the present/future setting in Oxford, where the time traveler comes from. In Oxford, it is treated comically to lighten the mood of the book. There is a group of American bell ringers and an overbearing woman reading depressing Bible passages. But the best part is the section that gets metaphysical, comparing God and Jesus to the time traveler’s predicament. “God didn’t know where his son was. He had sent his only begotten Son into the world, and something had gone wrong with the fix, someone had turned off the net, so that He couldn’t get to him and they had arrested him and put a crown of thorns …” I find that comparison to be fascinating, but perhaps too sensitive a topic to treat directly.