How can you plausibly stunt technological progress for a society?

  1. Limited access to base resources... if they can't get to any iron/tin/copper ore then metallurgy is going to be more difficult.

  2. Hell, even basic resources as wood might be an issue. To make larger and more complicated ships you need a LOT of wood, as an extreme example a late 1800s warship required thousands of trees.

  3. Iron has to be mined, so if the islands lack that, or if it's deep underwater, then they're going to be stuck in the bronze age until they can find out how to get it.

  4. Social and economic structures can go a long way to preventing new technologies from making nay impact. Just look at steam power: the ancient Greeks invented it, but no one used it because slaves were cheaper and more effective. Honestly, in general mass slavery is terrible for technological advancement, because it will always be cheaper to use someone for free (for for the cost of room and board) than to adopt some fancy new machine in its earliest form (which in turn means no one bothers to refine it).

  5. I wrote a global event where all 7 billion human clones turn against their original host by targeting fiber optic cable landing stations, semiconductor stations, and cobalt bomb launch icbms. This limits commodities and technological developments for a couple of decades until trailing edge semiconductors catch up.

  6. How long does it need to stagnate for? It’s fairly easy to introduce stagnation for a few years or generations but much harder for centuries or millennia.

  7. Have it reach our level of technologies; then hit it with a strings of Coronal Mass Ejections (ten to thirteen) over 13 years but each twice as powerful as the Carrington Event.

  8. Anti-progress zealetism (not to be confused with religion, the two get confused so much for absolutely no reason that it gets annoying). If you have a class of outspoken people who have the people's ear for one reason or another and who stand to gain from ruling over a stagnant society, you have the perfect recipe for what you're asking about.

  9. In GoT they have devastating winters once a generation or so knocking them back to mid evil tech each time, you could try to lean that way, make a world full of disasters that limit progress

  10. Depending on how big the islands are the lack of fresh water for irrigation of agriculture could be a huge impediment. Moving from subsistence level farming to wide-spread agriculture is a huge step. Producing a food surplus means not everyone has to be in good production which frees people up for specialization and eventually the specialists innovate.

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